Memories of Mothers’ Day
By Bill Shepard
Mothers’ Day is celebrated in the month of May. Was it so established by mere accident? If so, it was an appropriate action. Although Mothers’ Day was first observed in America in 1908, it was President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, who declared it a national day of observance to be held the second Sunday of each May.
May is the time of year that Mother Nature comes into full fruition. The forests are green again, and the evergreens no longer stand out among the bleak and dead-like trees of the forest. The fields are alive with food-producing plants, and the birds are nesting their young; in short, the whole earth is alive and bringing forth. What an appropriate time for America to be honoring its mothers! Mother Eve would be proud of her accomplishment, should she be able to view all her offspring this day. And who is to say with absolute correctness that she does not?
Mothers’ Day is remembered in various ways by many people. For some, it revives memories of childhood days when Mother was the center of life in the old homestead. A time when the young could always find an answer to all their bothersome questions, a remedy for every physical ailment, and a solace for whatever sorrow that might have befallen.
For some, Mothers’ Day is celebrated by a time of family fellowship, dinner at the old home place, and gifts for Mother being presented. For others, sadly enough, Mothers’ Day means a visit to the cemetery where Mother has been for a long time. She is awaiting the time when she shall come forth to a new life. A great mystery will unfold at that time.
One of the things that made an impression on me as a child was the rose that each person wore on Mothers’ Day. If one could be found, a red rose was worn by those whose Mother was still alive, and a white rose pinned on one’s garment meant that Mother was no longer alive. As a small child, I can remember the old and the young alike scouring the village in search of a rose to wear to church that day. It was a tradition closely observed by the village folk. I can still remember the feeling of sadness that would come over me when I looked into the faces of those who were wearing a white rose. How thankful I would be that a red rose was pinned on my Sunday overalls. The little church where I would go on that day would be a mixed bouquet of red and white roses. Beautiful memories are made by good Mothers, memories that will follow long after their offspring wear the white rose on Mothers Day.
I recall a time when I was a small boy. My mother had become seriously ill. It had to be death-threatening, for one only went to the hospital when that was the case. She was away several days, and we missed her so much. Grandma came to stay with us while she was away. Dad had to report to work each day, in order to keep food on the table.
I will never forget the day that Mama came home from the hospital. She looked so pale and thin. Dad helped her to get inside, as we all stood and watched. When it came my time to hug Mama, she reached inside a paper bag and handed me a stick of chewing gum and half an apple. The gum, someone had given her; the apple was part of her breakfast that morning. It would be years ahead before I would really appreciate the love that was behind those two small gifts. In her time of sickness, her thoughts had been on her children back home. Truly, good Mothers leave beautiful memories for their children. We were so happy to have Mama back home. That year, I pinned a bright red rosebud on the bib of my overalls and proudly wore it to church.
The poet wrote – Hundreds of dew drops to greet the dawn
Hundreds of bees on the purple clover
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn
But only one Mother the wide world over.
This Mothers Day, I will wear a white rose just as I have been doing for many years.
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. We are delighted to share his memories.