On this Hallmark day when so many people feel guilty if they don’t visit their mothers, or buy them flowers, or take them out to eat with 40,000 of their closest friends waiting in line to eat at a restaurant, I’m thinking of calmer Mother’s Days.
When I was growing up, we observed the holiday with a gift for the Mothers in our lives. Sometimes, I bought my mother something. My Daddy would take me shopping to select something for her. I cringe when I remember some of the choices I made – but she displayed the horrible treasure anyway. And, I still have a ragged sheet of paper on which I wrote her a poem. I think I was about ten years old at the time. I recall hiding in the closet to secretly write it when I was supposed to be vacuuming the house. She scolded me for dawdling at my task, but all was forgiven when she read the poem on Sunday morning. I found it in her belongings after her death 46 years later and it’s tattered state leads me to believe she read it and reread it a few times.
We always wore corsages to church on Mother’s Day. The only time I recall Mama spending money at the florist was for a funeral, or for Mother’s Day. Mama wore a white corsage (because her mother was dead, she explained; none of this “passed away” language at our house) and I wore a red carnation. We always bought an orchid for Aunt Nellie (the spinster great-aunt who lived next door and who had “raised” Mama after she was orphaned at the age of four. “Orphaned” was Mama’s word, too.) I was a bit perplexed because the orchid wasn’t exactly white, but in Mama’s world, it worked. Since Aunt Nellie attended a different church from ours, we made a visit to her house on that Sunday morning to pin on her corsage before her departure.
When Granny (my paternal grandmother, Ollie Jane) lived with us, she wore a white corsage to church, too. Now that I think of this, I realize how important that corsage was to my mother – and I wonder, did I take care of that EVERY year after I left home? I know I did if I was there to visit and go to church with them on that day, and I do recall phoning the florist in our hometown and having a corsage delivered some years. I hope I didn’t forget any time, but I know if I did, I was forgiven.
There were occasions when I couldn’t get home for Mother’s Day. I remember Mama saying, “It doesn’t matter to me. Any day you come visit can be Mother’s Day. It doesn’t have to be when everyone else thinks it is.” I still felt guilty about it, though.
Now that I’m a mother, I do understand. Sometimes other things come up. The last thing I want my children to feel on Mother’s Day (or any day) is guilt if they have lives to live. I know they love me. And, any day they visit is Mother’s Day to me!
The photo is of my mother in 1951, the year I was born. The photo was taken by her father, a professional portrait photographer, and was hand tinted by her sister.