Column: To all the moms out there, with love


Roger VanHaren

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Sunday, May 12, is Mother’s Day in the United State.

The holiday of Mother’s Day began in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother at St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States began in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, died. Ann Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother by continuing the work she started and to set aside a day to honor all mothers because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

In 1908, the U.S. Congress rejected a proposal to make Mother’s Day an official holiday, joking that they would also have to proclaim a “Mother-in-law’s Day.” However, because of the hard work of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother’s Day, held on the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers.

I read somewhere that Mother’s Day weekend is one of the biggest commercial holidays in the United States. Flowers, candy, and cards are typical gifts, and phone traffic is especially high on the second Sunday in May.

Why not? It’s not difficult to understand why there’s so much emphasis on this special day; after all, we’re honoring some pretty special ladies.

Mothers are our first (and probably most important) educators. They teach us many things which are essential to our growing up. I know I learned a lot from my mom.

Mom was one of those hard-working farm-wife moms who spent hours working side-by-side with Dad in the barn and in the fields and still managed to cook and clean and garden and do the laundry — all the usual mothers’ chores. I’m sure that my own work ethic is partly a result of seeing how she always did her “fair share” and never complained.

Mom taught me tolerance. Because she and Dad did not go to the same church, I was always aware of the differences between faiths and learned very early that it made no difference which church people attended; what mattered was what kind of person an individual was.

Mom taught me to be frugal. We didn’t have much money when I was a kid, and Mom “made do” by being very judicious about the way we spent our money. Waste not, want not was an important tenet in her canon.

Mom taught me the value of generosity and hospitality. We lived on the VanHaren homestead, and my grandfather lived with us. As a result, we had “company” very often. There was a pretty steady flow of VanHaren relatives who often dropped in unexpectedly to visit with us and Grandpa. Mom had to prepare all the meals and do all the extra work that having guests entails. She never complained about the extra work or expense and was always a gracious hostess. It’s no wonder that “Aunt Gladys” was always my many cousins’ favorite aunt.

Mom instilled in me a desire to learn. She herself had had to drop out of school during the Depression to help out with her family’s income, and I always knew that she wanted “better” for me and my sister Joyce. I guess I always knew that I would somehow go to college; it was never a question of “if” — only how.

Mom taught me lots of things. The person I am now is due in no small part to the influence of my mom – and I am thankful to her for all she did for me. My mom often told me she was proud of me, and I’m sure she knew I was proud of her, too.

So, Mom, I know you’re up there reading this. Thank you for all you did for me. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you!

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