Mother's Day turns 100 this year. Back in 1908 -- the celebration started in Grafton, West Virginia -- which just happens to be the home town of my daughter's great-great grandmother, on her father's side. This is perhaps one of the biggest claims to fame in her family. Back then, Anna Jarvis -- not a mother herself -- encouraged people to give mothers a single white carnation, to signify the purity of a mother's love. Besides her own mother, I am told one of Anna's inspirations was my daughter's Granny Gaye -- who herself had a gaggle of children -- numbering in the double digits. One of them was my daughter's sweet great-grandma Mary, who died peacefully, while my bright-eyed baby daughter waited by her bed. Anna and Gaye went to church together, in that small and poor town. From their efforts -- the holiday grew from a small church in the coal mining village of Grafton, to a worldwide Hallmark extravaganza.
So what would Anna and Gaye say, if they saw the way it's celebrated now? Would they want to shake off all the material trappings -- the presents, the elaborate restaurant meals, the pedicures -- like they snapped their dusty rugs each night? Would they chuckle at my sullen mood today -- when i know i won't be getting a flower of any color from my daughter's father? Would they laugh and tell me how their coal mining husbands had little to do with raising their kids -- besides bringing home the food to feed them? Would they tell me that motherhood never has been a Sunday stroll -- so just get over it? 100 years after the holiday began -- Granny Gaye's progeny is flung all the way across the continent -- from the hills of West Virginia -- to the coastal valleys of Oregon. Could she have imagined her great-great granddaughter, fashioning plastic plates in a Portland preschool, to give to her mama on mother's day? Would they be impressed at that much effort from a four-year old -- compared to plucking a single white flower from the garden?
At that church in Grafton today -- they're still giving mothers a single white carnation, just like back in the day. Sweet, pure and simple.
I went to the grocery store after i wrote this post today and when i came back to my car, there was a yellow carnation just sitting next to my driver's side door.
The Universe gave me a carnation -- albeit, slightly more pissed-on-looking than the Grafton variety... but still.