Mother's Day Memorial Turned Into Joy

Honoring and celebrating the legacy of mothers everywhere.

Around this time of year, my heart senses a faint and familiar ache with a constant, low intensity. It sneaks up on me with no warning and sets in like a rain cloud.

On Mother’s Day 2003, I watched as doctors removed the breathing tube from my mother’s lungs, and, quietly, she took her last breath.

Whether I like it or not, that memory becomes most salient the week before Mother’s Day.

Undoubtedly, it is the most surreal experience to watch as someone you love passes from life to death.

For the first few years, I fumbled through Mother’s Day, choking back tears, trying to cloak my broken heart with a counterfeit smile.

But that great healer called time has allowed me to take the small waves of memories in stride.

Now I welcome any memory of my mother—whether it’s the aroma of lavender hand lotion or a cup of black tea with cream and sugar in a pretty china cup.

I allow the memory its full measure. I drink it in like a cold glass of water on a hot summer day.

My mother raised seven children and somehow managed to make each of us feel special in our own right.

She was strict, clean and organized, as well as delicate, generous and selfless. I never realized until I had a child of my own the all-encompassing love motherhood demands.

Emigrating to the U.S. from Scotland when she was a little girl, my mother was old school, with grit, guts and resilience.

I think my sisters and I have cultivated those same characteristics.

And now, the closest I can get to my mother is my sisters—each of them a unique reflection of her. When I spend time with them, I’m also spending time with my mother.

Mother’s Day, which dates back to the celebration of mythical figures in ancient Greece and later in the 1600s to celebrate the mother of Christ, has evolved.

From Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who worked for a “Mothers Friendship Day” in 1858, to Julia Ward Howe, who crusaded for a “Mothers Day for Peace” in 1873, strong women have long had the desire to unite as mothers.

And where one determined mother left off, her courageous daughter took up. Finally, Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Marie Jarvis, set the stage for the modern Mother’s Day to "honor mothers, living and dead."

The tenacity and steadfastness of the mother was cultivated by young Jarvis and resulted in a presidential proclamation of Mother’s Day on May 9, 1914.

In the same way, I hope to honor my mother by building a strong family and leaving a great legacy for my own daughter.

Not only that, but by encouraging others, refining my craft, telling a good story and clinging to the truth, I hope to honor and expand my mother’s legacy.

There are great riches in the job title of mother. This quote, for which this column is titled, sums it up.

“For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” – William Ross Wallace

This Mother’s Day, I remember my mother with great joy. I celebrate the pleasure of motherhood and tip my hat to mothers around the globe.


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