Sunday, May 13, 2018 at 8:42 PM

This Is My Nineteenth Motherless Mother’s Day…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

And, much to my annoyance, I’ve been hearing “sorry for your loss” every Mother’s Day since.

US President Woodrow Wilson designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in 1914. Which compels the question: Did people fail to properly honor mothers before then?

More to the point, though, Wilson’s proclamation should have no bearing on the natural instinct to show mothers the love and appreciation they are due … every day.

This is why I never participated in the condescending commercial contrivance that is Mother’s Day – even when my mother was alive. She never complained, but that’s probably because she had 16 other children who did.

But nothing informed my aversion quite like knowing that Anna Jarvis lived to regret it. To honor her mother’s wish, she launched a campaign in 1905 for this day “to honor the best mother who ever lived, yours.” That campaign led to Wilson’s proclamation nine years later.

Except that:

Jarvis couldn’t stand the idea of people spending so much money on extravagant flower arrangements, sappy greeting cards and overly priced chocolates. … Her protests [against this commercialization of Mother’s Day] escalated to arrests for public disturbances. …

Jarvis died in a sanitarium in 1948.

(CBS News, May 13, 2018)

Of course, it’s all too easy to see why she ended up there. After all, that commercialization she was protesting now accounts for nearly $25 billion in sales for every Mother’s Day. In other words, Jarvis had to be insane to think she could stem that unsentimental tide of “human progress.”

In any event, it only compounds my annoyance when people presume that I miss my mother more acutely on this day than any other. But I always felt this was too personal for public comment. That is, until I came across Mary Cella’s “I’m So Sorry for My Loss” in today’s edition of The New York Times.

Mind you, she does not vent my disdain for the commercialization that defines Mother’s Day. (A disdain I have for others like Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day … and Christmas Day too.) But Cella waxes cynical enough on one truly perverse aspect of Mother’s Day, so much so that I thought her piece worth recommending.

Her title speaks volumes, but I suspect one has to be a motherless child to really get it. Therefore, I hope the following lines are illustrative and enticing enough without giving away too much:

This is my ninth motherless Mother’s Day, and while I still feel a little that people who take their mom out to brunch to celebrate are bragging, I’d like to assure you all that I’m fine.

The worst part of losing my mom is the fact that she’s no longer alive. … About the 100th worst part is how uncomfortable most people get when I tell them my mother is dead.

(The New York Times, May 12, 2018)

So please spare me (and yourself) the faux and annoyingly belated condolences.

And the motherless children say, Amen!

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