Happy Mother’s Day. I did a little bit of reading about it, and my search reminded me that Mother’s day has its origins in the early 1900’s with Anna Jarvis who was not married nor a mother. She did it in memory of her own mother who was, among other things, a Civil War nurse.
The observation caught on very quickly and Woodrow Wilson made it official in 1914. Ironically, Anna was so distressed by the commercialism, (cards, flow¬ers, gifts, etc.,) that grew up around the holiday, that she spent the rest of her life (she died in 1948) trying to reclaim the specific idea of a child simply honoring his or her own mother. Note it’s Mother’s and not Mothers’ Day.
I read she died poor, having spent her wealth on trying to copyright the day’s name, etc. The article said that florists and card-makers paid for her final days in a sanatorium in Philadelphia.
Maybe all that was too much information. As I read over it, I’m almost tempted to erase the whole story.
Perhaps what really needs to be remembered is that it all began because of her love for her own mother, and that’s the point of today.
Of course, I think of my own mother today. She died in 1999 at age 87. She had seven children. I’m the oldest and some have said she had six more to prove to the world she could do better.
Dad died after 28 years of their marriage, and over the next 31 years she continued raising her children including returning to work when the youngest entered school. I remember her cautioning us at one point that her becoming a grandmother didn’t mean we all automatically had a babysitter.
With all my heart I hope each of you have happy memories of your parents and especially your moms today. We will also recall our dads in June. Sometimes memories can hurt.
There are many stories of parents that we have known. Some were nothing less than heroic. Most would probably say that they were simply doing what being a parent required.
When I baptize babies, I tell the parents that they are the special environment of faith for their children. Everything a child learns about God’s love begins with their love.
It happens in many different ways, like my non-Catholic father driving his Catholic wife and children to Mass every Sunday (and having the bacon and eggs ready when we got home from Mass.)
I remember Mom in a blue maternity dress with five of her children kneeling next to her at Mass. My duty as the oldest was to be at the other end. We were all very good in church, because it was a whole lot simpler. I don’t know whether it was instinct on our part or maybe occasional clear warnings. Whatever, we knew it was simpler and wiser to be good.
As I said, I don’t think Mom felt like she was nurturing our faith alone because Dad was always there. He chose to enter the Church later on, but that was a celebration of who he was and not what he was “becoming.” Mom had a central part in that journey.
The happiest Mother’s Day thought I can have now is that I know with as much certainty as I can have this side of the grave, that Mom and Dad are in the embrace of the Lord. May your memories be as rich. I know some are not, but now is the time to forgive if that’s what is needed, for yourself as well as them.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.