Mothers are always the rock we depend upon

May 11, 2012

We are a nation that loves to celebrate; we are a country beholden to a calendar filled with holidays. Some of those earmarked days are more profound than others, such as Armed Forces Day, and there are those that are whimsical, such as National Cuticle Day.

But there is one that seems to supersede all others - that is Mother’s Day. The holiday always takes place on the second Sunday of May, although it should be acknowledged on any given day.

But mark your calendar this year for this Sunday, May 13.

Our history is rich with women being honored as far back as Greek and Roman mythology. Civilizations have recognized that women are an important part of life and the foundation of all conception.

So it’s not surprising that a woman, Anna Reeves Jarvis, is considered the first woman to hold an official Mother’s Day celebration in the United States. In 1858, she convinced her state of West Virginia to institute Mother’s Day to raise awareness of a local issue, mainly sanitation. Perhaps this has filtered down to your mother’s warning to wash your hands.

The baton was passed to another woman, Julia Ward Howe, who just happened to be the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Miss Howe initiated a Mother’s Day for Peace in 1872; this was celebrated in a dozen cities across America.

After her mother passed away, Anna Jarvis took up the campaign and passed out white carnations at her mother’s church in West Virginia. In 1912, the state adopted an official Mother’s Day resolution, and two years later, President Wilson signed the joint congressional resolution making Mother’s Day a national holiday. So it is with much history we celebrate the most telephoned, getting in touch with, honoring a relative holiday.

This honor hasn’t come lightly for women. Mothers carry a burden not unlike a Guardian Angel, looking after a flock of wayward sheep. She has to guide them, prod them and keep them on course.

She’s the one who leaves the light on for them when they should have been in an hour ago. She’ll provide protection and shelter and soothe away those nightmares. And yet, mothers are like the sea, comforting, always there and a person who can lift your spirits with one glance.

I’ll bet if you went through her things after she has left this earth, you wouldn’t be surprised to find a lot of spiritual prayer cards and booklets. It seemed a quiet part of her life, perhaps a driving force when things turned bleak despite her best efforts.

These are the rock qualities we grew up knowing about our mothers.

But if you didn’t have that special relationship, or you never knew your mother, or unfortunately, she is no longer with you, there are plenty of reminders and substitutes that may become mother figures too.

It’s about the beauty in the simple things of life. It’s a garden blooming with wildflowers and that occasional rose hanging lazily around a broken twig. It’s the smell of honeysuckle overgrown in some marsh. It’s the fire engine red sky late at dusk when the sun is setting over the bay. And it’s the kind word from a stranger that helps you out of your predicament.

All around you are the sights and senses you need to have a mother. You just have to wake up and take advantage of the gift.

Sometimes it’s tough to live up to the standards. You see many women struggling with a family, often in way over their heads. Or lately, we’ve seen bad behavior in the news, stories about mothers resorting to things that are beyond our comprehension.

So stop and give a mother, whether your own or a complete stranger, a carnation this Mother’s Day. It’s the symbol passed out by Anna Jarvis to all the mothers in her church years ago to signify love, charity and beauty, some of the virtues of motherhood.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.