Tuesday, May 18, 2021

This Just In: It's Mother's Day

 Archived from Chapelboro.com   https://chapelboro.com/town-square/columns/this-just-in/this-just-in-mothers-day

Anna Maria Jarvis of West Virginia, born in 1864, was the ninth of eleven children. Seven of her siblings died in infancy or early childhood. Hold on to that thought… losing seven children in infancy or early childhood.

Jarvis lived a long life for her time, dying at the age of 84. Though few career options were available to her, she pursued higher education and had some success in banking and insurance jobs. This weekend, however, we remember Jarvis because of her social activism – she was the founder of America’s Mother’s Day.

She advocated for the creation of this day inspired by her own mother, whose name she shared. When the greeting card and florist industries took hold of the holiday in order to boost their business, Jarvis struck back.

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” she wrote.


Late in her life, she was involved in an unsuccessful petition effort to rescind the holiday. The effort halted when Jarvis was admitted to a Pennsylvania Sanitarium where she died in 1948. Individuals associated with the Florist and Greeting Card industries paid her medical expenses. I’m sure they sent flowers and a card to her family when she died.

This week, we were reminded that money can’t buy happiness. Bill and Melinda Gates, America’s ultimate power couple, are going their separate ways after 27 years of marriage. These people have given a great deal to world – much more than just money­ – and I wish them the happiness that seems to be eluding them right now.

Several years ago, Melinda Gates was being interviewed and said something that greatly impacted me. She’s been very involved in distribution of many life-saving vaccines worldwide and she was asked about the so-called “anti-vax” movement. Her important insight – this generation considers opposing measles, mumps and rubella vaccines because as a society we have collectively forgotten how it feels when children die.

She’s right. We know that children can die from accidents and rare diseases, but my children have not seen their classmates vanish from their elementary school classrooms. For my grandparents, born at the end of the 19th century, this was common.

Anna Maria Jarvis never married and didn’t have children of her own. Her legacy in the world is one that she wanted to erase due to its crass commercialism – Mother’s Day. Consider that she didn’t have to experience what one writer called “a knife through the heart” of various promotions. His mother died 30 years ago, he says, but on this day – the wound opens right up.

I have to agree. It’s been almost 10 years since my mother passed away, and although I enjoy the day with my children and grandchildren, it still has that tinge of bittersweet, often exacerbated by special last minute offers to send mom flowers. My mother’s ashes are scattered in a rose bed. I’m covered.

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