Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day 2012

I left the city that my parents lived in back in 1980, and while they seemed rather indecisive as to whether they wanted to reside in Chicago or Kansas City for the next few years, I instead seemed completely incapable of establishing anything like a permanent home for many of the years since.  As a consequence, I did not live in the same city as my mother for over 30 years.  For some strange reason however, for the second year in a row we both find ourselves calling Mission, Kansas home (in fact only blocks apart).  It therefore seems likely that I will be able to see her on that day of days that celebrates female progenitors. 

Now 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 typical bit of government overkill, but I have it on good information that even politicians have mothers.) 

Mother's Day is therefore designated for what seem to be sometimes ungrateful offspring to for at least one day sing the praises of those whose efforts go far beyond mere words. Even those of us who consider ourselves rather gifted at doing so usually find ourselves failing miserably with those we attempt to use.  Let me however try at least to explain a woman who is at once both patient and strong, loving and giving, a fierce defender and an equally kind critic. She is also our family's living memory, having some vast reserve of ability which allows her to untangle the oft-times complicated relationships of a group of people who long ago lost hope of doing so for themselves.  She needs only to see a face or hear a voice in order to recall a name and establish proper lineage for those involved; all while recalling an amusing anecdote relating to that person or one of their immediate ancestors or offspring.

That her reserves of patience are both endless and overflowing can be illustrated no more clearly 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).  This is not to say that she can't be vocally opinionated, but that her only real intolerance appears to be for those not as devoted as she is to her beloved Chicago Cubs (a devotion she more than illustrated on her 80th birthday when she had their emblem tattooed on her shoulder).

To say therefore on this Mother's Day that I deeply love and respect this woman is to damn with faint praise; but in the end, perhaps the best that I can offer and her just due.  May each of you have been so blessed as to have been raised by, or at least known such a woman.  And while you may not have an Internet venue in which to extol her virtues, may you also be able to find the time to tell them how much they've meant to you.

Happy Mother's Day!

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