Decades ago, more than six at least, ‘Mother’s Day’ meant very little to myself and many other children of that time. We knew it was a day dedicated to mothers and in some cases grandmothers.
The greatest significance (for us) at that time was the almost forced purchase of poppies to pin on your school shirt—a red one if your mother was alive and a white one if your mother was deceased.
This little act (wearing the poppy) meant a great deal to us as children. It purported to show that we dearly loved our mothers for all they did and were still doing for us.
The care, discipline and respect for others, especially elders, were reflected in our upbringing and this aspect flowered at that time. They showed us sympathy and compassion.
Mother’s Day, as far as we were concerned, was every day because she tended to our cuts and bruises with the aplomb of a qualified medical professional. She helped us with our homework. She ensured we were clean and dressed and she made sure we had something to eat.
Now for some ‘mothering’ moments. I remember one day a well-off student brought a fountain pen to school. I was good at penmanship, so I was allowed to use it and put down my nib and inkwell. It wrote like a dream across my copybook. He even allowed me to take it home to do my homework. I was elated. So much so that I did much more than my regular homework.
But fantasies do abruptly end. My grandmother saw me using the pen and asked where I got it. “A friend lent it to me,” I said. She got red, blue and many other colours and then said, “Take it back immediately. I don’t want anything in this house I know nothing about.” I sheepishly walked the four blocks to my friend’s home and told him what had happened. The power of a mother.
Another episode. My mother and I were walking on the way to church when another villager, riding his bike, passed and my mother said, “Morning, Cousin Louis”. He replied. Then she looked down at me and said tersely “Say mornin’”. I replied, “He’s not my cousin.” Who tell me to say that!
Up came the hand and I received a solid ‘calpet’ with the admonition, “Cousin or not show respect for your elders.” I eventually ended up marrying his stepdaughter. This year we celebrate 54 years of married bliss.
It was a Monday in this next scene. Rain had fallen near the end of school time. It was football season and we children started a wind-ball match on the way home. She knew what time I was due home, so I didn’t have much playtime. The grass was very wet and slightly muddy; I could not afford to dirty my pants on a Monday.
Solution! I turned my pants inside out and proceeded to play. I went home with a pair of clean looking pants. I had outsmarted Mom. Or so I thought.
The next Monday after school, my pants dotted with mud spots on the wrong side, was waiting for me. The question posed: how did the pants get dirty? I had no answer. Punishment. Several strokes. I did not outsmart her.
Such stories showed how much a mother means to you. We did not have the resources to observe Mother’s Day as it is celebrated today. Maybe some flowers from her garden not the exquisite floral arrangements of today. No gifts large or small. No restaurant breakfasts or lunches. No expensive trips, just unconditional love. It was simple but true.
In a world where everything was simple, children knew exactly how much they appreciated their mothers who brought them into this world, cared for them, educated them and would do almost anything for them—be their teacher, religious leader, friend and mentor.
Gifts of flowers, many or a few, was what most mothers looked forward to getting and this was equivalent to all the expensive gifts that are showered on mothers on their day in an effort to make the day a special one.
Regardless of which form we celebrate our mothers today, let us open our hearts and thank God for them all.
My mother and I were walking on the way to church when another villager, riding his bike, passed and my mother said, “Morning, Cousin Louis”. He replied. Then she looked down at me and said tersely “say mornin’”. I replied, “He’s not my cousin.” Who tell me to say that!