Celebrations of mothers trace back to ancient Greek and Roman society. They honored the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. The tradition was carried on by early Christians as “Mothering Sunday” when the faithful returned to their “mother church” for a special service.
This transformed into a more secular holiday where children would present their mothers with flowers to show their appreciation. Today, Mother’s Day is a continuation of that recognition (except we’ve added a brunch to rival Easter’s own).
A few years ago, I honored my mother in this blog on the occasion of her 90th birthday. In it I suggested that “every day should be Mother’s Day.”
Pointed out to me, however, was the fact that not everyone has a good relationship with their mother, and my tribute reminded them of unfair circumstances thrust upon their childhood. Of course, I acknowledged what they were saying, but that truth also underscored the importance of motherhood.
It is a mother who is the first relationship of every being. A mother sculpts life from the material of her own body. And that is an otherworldly bond.
My wife, Shannon, adored her mother, who passed away too young many years ago, but they did, in fact, have a challenging relationship. Nevertheless, the gift of my wife is a gift from her mother.
Shannon offered her perspective on our mothers: “Alcoholism took my mother and any chance to repair our relationship. But, your mother, Gary, is indestructible.”
I asked her what she meant, and she replied: “In the few years I’ve know her she has, in her 90s, survived a fall on concrete which broke her neck, she kicked COVID in the butt, and she still smiles from ear to ear.”
While I’m not a son who has ever needed to be reminded of the specialness of his mother, the notion of super human strength was new. I thought about what made her so strong.
She was strengthened by love for her children and grandchildren. She was invigorated being wheeled to exercise class where she’d show everyone how a nonagenarian can stretch that rubber band to build muscles!
She always looked forward to her dear friend, Victoria, who took her for car rides on warm days with blue skies. And she loved to wake up from a nap to find me already sitting in her room.
She cherished the memory of my father and the joy they shared raising a family; of having been a teacher; a flight attendant; a member of the Green Valley Clogging Club and the New Horizons Band.
My mother’s strength was the source of my own when she let go of these earthly bonds last summer, but what I have pales in comparison. My heart still grieves every day for her touch. The sky isn’t as blue as it once was.
Yet it is still Mother’s Day and every day through eternity is a reminder of the gift a mother brings.
This is not just a reflection about my own mother. Let this be a tribute to all mothers.
Happy Mother’s Day!