Happy Sunday, and Happy Mother’s Day for those who celebrate…and especially for those who don’t or can’t or won’t. This post is for you.
Before Hallmark and greedy tchotchke, florist, and confection hawkers usurped this day morphing it into Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Friend’s Day, Siblings’ Day, etc, etc …before all that, there was a mother…and a daughter.
In 1914, with the help of Congress and President Woodrow Wilson, Anna Jarvis realized her mother, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis’ dream to have an official national day honoring Mothers; specifically the work of women, and of mother’s, who played an influential role improving sanitary conditions and lowering infant mortality by fighting disease caused by milk contamination. These women were members of the Mother’s Day Work Clubs. During the Civil War Reeves Jarvis’ Work Clubs shifted their focus by declared neutrality, and providing aid to both Confederate and Union soldiers. They would eventually plan a Mother’s Friendship Day to help foster reconciliation between families and neighbors in a divided and broken nation. It was Ann’s Sunday School prayer that inspired her daughter Anna to found what would become the United States’ first Mother’s Day:
“I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.”
-Ann Reeves Jarvis
Three years after her mother’s death Anna sent a telegram and 500 white carnations in honor of her Mother to Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, where Ann Marie taught Sunday School. Today, it is home to the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in Grafton, West Virginia. Of her choice of the carnation she explained,
“Its whiteness is to symbolize the truth, purity and broad-charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying. When I selected this flower, I was remembering my mother’s bed of white pinks.”
— Anna Jarvis
Anna Jarvis’ Mother’s Day was meant to be a day for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers, to work for peace, provide assistance to mothers in need and to honor all mothers and motherhood. Anna, who never married or had children of her own spent her later years fighting the swift commercialization of the holiday, eventually dying penniless, blind, and broken in a sanitarium. It is reported that the businesses who profited from Mother’s Day actually paid for Anna’s treatment in order to keep her in the sanitarium, therefore silencing her protest of the growing commercial slant of the day.
Today we continue to be influenced by the commercial hype of this holiday. As children and mothers our feeling can fluctuate between feeling guilty or devastated if our Mother’s Day does not achieve our great expectations.
But all is not lost. I still believe Mother’s Day can be restored to the original intent of its founder and the mother who inspired her. Like the days following the Civil War, we are once again a divided nation. Like Ann Reeves and her daughter Anne we can strive to be neutral in the face of division, compassionate to those in need, kind to our family and neighbors. If the original mothers’ movement could be started by a few women over 100 years ago, then I believe we can do it again.
Let there be no cards, or flowers, or chocolates tied in a pretty bow to commemorate this day, but justice, compassion and peace. That is the greatest gift we can give to each other every day; not just on a designated commercialized holiday. I think Ann and Anna would be pleased.
Sunday’s Week in ReVerse – 13 May 2018
cool surface, scarcely rippling
we count the hours, days by you
forgotten in crumbling clay
at least that’s what my therapist tells me
the street sounds blared louder, louder
its bright cerulean dome dappled
we hide in bubbles
up your sleeve
this is where I go to reconnect…
in fickle surrender, peace
grazing heaven’s canopy
a rose is a rose is
when time stands still
the wind whispers to me
then the flowers bloomed
(Source information: Wikipedia.)