So there we were with a couple of bashful vergers posted with their baskets full of lovely handmade nosegays meant to recognize mothers, whether present among us or not. This is the pretty little presentation the Bishop's wife kindly took out and handed to me to honor my two mothers and their mothers, too, as well I would.
If you have any affiliation with things or persons British, you likely know that today is Mothering Sunday. As the Bishop informed the attendees this morning at the Anglican parish where my husband choir-conducts, it matters not that there is an American counterpart holiday–by the time that President Woodrow Wilson got around to declaring such a thing official in 1914, this congregation had already been celebrating Mothering Sunday for a good 35 years thanks to its British roots, and Texas-located or not, they sure as shootin’ weren’t going to stop recognizing mothers on this official day right along with the president’s little add-on festivity.
Anglophilic as I am, I’m hardly one to balk at keeping the faith with the old holiday myself, whether for stubbornness’ sake or for tradition, or for the beautiful British-ness of it all–though it originated as a Christian holiday, surprisingly, falling on the Sunday when one of the traditional texts began with a paean to Jerusalem, the ‘mother of us all’. But better than that, I happen to think that there are excellent reasons for celebrating mothers and motherhood as often and as publicly and resolutely as possible–two supremely excellent reasons to begin with: Elisabeth, who gave birth to me, and Joyce, who gave birth to my husband. I have two of the best mothers in the whole wide world. You can look it up; in any sensible encyclopedia or dictionary it will have a picture of the two of them in the entry explicating the heart and soul of the concept known as ‘Mom‘.
You could be forgiven if you thought from the accompanying photos of them that they had their work cut out for them with these two little melancholy looking shrimps of theirs but I assure you we, and our respective siblings, were all a supernal joy to raise from first to last. Okay, that part is pure baloney and bilge-water–but the point of course is how outstanding our moms were at mothering, and that part is utterly true. We were and are two incredibly fortunate humans, and we know it. No amount of roses and posies could possibly reflect the full spectrum of gifts that Joyce and Elisabeth have brought to both of our lives. But a sweet little nosegay with a brilliant deep pink rose is hardly amiss in the attempt.I made my own little corsage, of course, as a drawing of exotic (i.e., nonexistent inventions representing) flowers, because mere effusions in prose can never say how deeply grateful I am to have two such dear and devoted mothers to love. I am particularly and acutely aware of this when both, who have had their own adventures of survival and not just in spouse-training and child-raising over the years, are currently recovering from surgeries. Nothing like having one’s mom undergo surgery, especially as both are doing, surgeries that are not their first, to remind us of how fragile life and wholeness can be and how desperately we hope for our chance of having them back ‘better than new’ and with long and healthy and happy years ahead of them. The signs are good, despite the inevitable miseries of recovering bit by bit, with the expected setbacks, that our hopes will be fulfilled. The only medicine I can offer is love, and that I do send them in unspeakable abundance, but since my mother had spinal surgery I’m pretty sure a big hug is not the most desired form of cure even if I were 2000 miles closer to her, and since my other mom is probably still bandaged up here and there a bit herself, the same 2000 miles nearer-my-mom-to-thee might just prove a little too abrasive as well. So from this safe distance I send e-hugs, ethereal kisses and two-dimensional bouquets and eagerly hope to see both of our mothers springing with good health in June.
I wish and hope that both of our beloved mothers will last even longer than a little drawing of a bouquet can before it fades like live flowers.
If you are a mother yourself–biologically or by adoption–or act as a nurturer and sheltering presence for anyone, I wish you endless bouquets as well. Without all of you, none of us would be here. Literally, of course. But in the wider sense, we owe an immense debt to the caregiving and protective and human-betterment instincts so often attributed to mothers and grandmothers and godmothers and aunts, and rightly so, but also gracefully and beautifully practiced by teachers and community builders and cooks and nurses and companions and shelter-builders of every age and nature who have the desire to make the world better for those who might not be able to make it sufficiently so for themselves. Thank you. Especially you, Elisabeth and Joyce. You are treasures beyond invention. I can think of no higher aspiration than that others should take their example from you.