Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

I left the city that my parents lived in back in 1980, and while they seemed to yo-yo between residences Chicago and Kansas City, I bounced around like a ping-pong ball from city to city in following a career. As a consequence, my mother and I have not been in the same city for a Mother's Day in over 30 years. 

 This year we are both living in Kansas City, but she left town Friday with one of my sisters to attend the requiem ceremony of my uncle Gordy. We will therefore once again be apart on this day that celebrates female progenitors. 

For those of you who unaware of the history of this holiday in the US, it is said to have been the results of three women, Ann Jarvis, her daughter Anna, and Julia Ward Howe. Ann Jarvis apparently began the effort by forming a committee calling for a "Mother's Friendship Day" in 1868, continuing efforts in pacification that included her treating wounded on both sides of the Civil War. Julia Ward Howe (also famous for writing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic") later added the "Mother's Day Proclamation", in reaction to the death and destruction of both the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. Ann's daughter Anna took up the cause during her mother's life and continued promoting the concept after her death. It became an official US holiday in 1914, after not only all of the States had declared it so, but Congress passed a law, and President Wilson issue a proclamation. (This might be considered a bit of typical government overkill, but I have it on good information that even politicians have mothers.) 

As for the excellence of my own, even the words of someone who likes to believe that they are rather good at stringing them together simply fail at trying to describe this woman. She is at once both patient and strong, loving and giving, fierce defender and kind critic. She is also the family's memory, being able to call on some vast reserve of memory which no one else possesses (certainly not this humble scribbler) to connect a face with a name, a lineage, and personal stories either touching,funny, or both. 

That her reserves are both endless and overflowing can be illustrated no more simply than by saying that she has managed to put up with this Curmudgeon for over fifty-five years (something no other woman has yet come close to managing). To say therefore on this Mother's Day that I deeply love and respect this woman is to damn with faint praise. Since she is halfway across the country however, it will have to suffice. I hope that each of you, will manage to celebrate not only this day of mothers, but with them as well.

Happy Mother's Day!

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