A Mother’s Day Salute
In ancient times, the Greeks praised mothers during the festival of Rhea. Rhea was the mother of their gods.
The modern Mother’s Day was created 150 years ago by social activist Anna Jarvis. She called it “Mother’s Work Day.” In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday.
Putting aside the crass commercialism engendered by current observations of this occasion, I’ve chosen to salute my late mother in ways some of us may have forgotten. Cards, phone calls and flowers are all well and good, but remembering mother in ways that will make her smile is priceless; giving her cause to forgive you for not doing so more often.
Hilda, my mother, led a normal life until I appeared on May 1, 1939. Having reached more than 9 pounds within Mom’s 4-foot, 6-inch, 110-pound, 37-year-old frame, I made my appearance, much to her relief.
On rare occasions she would deftly remind me of the 36 hours of wrenching labor she endured to provide me with the opportunity to behave so badly. Then she would hug me so tight I could hardly breathe.
I still miss those hugs, and would gladly misbehave again for just one more.
On my birthday, I often wondered why I got the cake and presents, and she got nothing. Hilda, in her wisdom, never expected much from me. To her, even Mother’s Day was little more than an after-thought. It took many years before I learned to admire and appreciate my mother’s selflessness.
In my school years, she taught me to read when my teachers gave up. Her patience was unending as I struggled to comprehend my textbooks. I made it, thanks to her.
When my honesty was tempted, I remembered the time she returned from shopping and discovered a clerk had given her too much change. She went back the following day to right the situation. She said she “Slept too well to jeopardize it with ill-gotten gains.”
As a teenager, she told me if I wanted to make a success out of old age I had better start now. I didn’t understand, but I never forgot, and she was right. When puberty struck, I told her I was going to go crazy and take her along with me. She just laughed.
From then until I turned 18, when I joined the Navy, her life was a roller coaster ride, thanks to me .
I did not appreciate her contributions to my life until maturity began nudging my conscience. Her quiet benevolence in attendance to the family taught me direction without being directed. She had the ability to mix physical and spiritual love into an elixir of light that shown like a never-ending beacon over family and those who came within range of her grace. Without fail, she lived the Christian principles she believed in.
But it was the laughter that held us together through thick and thin. That wicked sense of humor spared no one, particularly me.
She was almost 100 when we sat together for the last time. I remarked that I could not remember her ever being ill. She said: “Mothers are not allowed to be sick!” And she believed it. We talked of many things that day, and laughed until we cried. She looked at me before I left and said, “Heaven won’t be as much fun without you.” I replied, “Not to worry, I’ll be along one of these days myself.” I kissed her hand good-bye, looked into those tired eyes smiling up at me and walked away. The ache, no words can describe.
Her ashes were given to me in a plain metal container. I would have preferred solid gold encrusted with priceless gems.
My mother loved thunderstorms, and Lake Michigan. thunderstorms were “Angels bowling in heaven.” Large bodies of water were “Great divine spirits absorbing the love of God and spreading it out to all living things.”
Not long after she passed, a summer storm came rumbling toward Lake Michigan. As the winds picked up, I took the urn of ashes to one of the breakwater piers along the lake-front. It was June 12, Hilda’s birthday. I reluctantly emptied the urn and watched the trailing edge of the storm carry her remains, along with my tears, out to the Spirit of the lake.
Happy Mother’s Day, Hilda, and to mothers everywhere.
Frederick Donne, formerly of Alameda, has authored Tear Drops of God, a Kindle book, and the soon to be published Naked Before God. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.