Momma Thoughts

It was 1963. I was ten years old with a mind that questioned everything. Momma has spent a few dollars on corsages for herself and me. Mine was red; hers was white. Of course, I wanted to know why the difference. Momma explained that white indicated that her mother was in heaven and red meant that my mother was alive.

Being ten, this news did not have much impact on me. However, for the first time, I will be wearing a white carnation on Mother's Day. Suddenly, the signifigance of this simple tradition has great meaning to me. My mother is "in heaven" as Momma once said.

Where did we get this tradition? Would you believe the Greeks? Yes, the ancient Greeks were the first to celebrate a special day for mothers, actually, it was a specific mother, Rhea, whom they called mother of the gods. Later,
Christians began to observe a holy day for Mary, the Mother of God. The early churches crowned statues of Mary with flowers and held long processions carrying her statue through the villages.

Much later, in the 1800's two women, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe (of Battle Hymn of the Republic fame) began working towards the idea of an "official" day celebrating mothers.

While Julia Ward Howe was working towards organization of a Mother's Day of Peace, Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Marie, was the catalyst around the creation of a national observance of Mother's Day. Quite the go-getter, Anna created the International Mother's Day Shrine in Grafton, WV as well as the Mother's Day International Association which had its first meeting in 1912.

Finally, after an arduous writing campaign headed by Anna Jarvis, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day -- a national observation to recognize and honor motherhood.

Carnations became part of this celebration after Anna Jarvis distributed white carnations in her mother's memory at her church on the first Mother's Day in 1914. Florists came up with the idea of wearing red carnations to signify that the mother was alive. (Resource:


Daddy, Momma and Me ~ 1953

I miss Momma. She was an amazing person, full of humor, tenacious to a fault, and strong beyond belief. She drove me crazy, taught me to laugh at life and opened my eyes to the beauty that surrounds us. She was a woman ahead of her time, fighting prejudice, working towards equality for all, and resisting the seduction of the status quo.

It surprised me when, during my graduate studies in critical literacy and social justice, that I found that many of the premises being taught, I had learned and practiced for years, thanks to Momma. I often wonder what she would have been like if she had had the opportunities I have had to study for a degree. I can easily imagine that she would have been a force to be reckoned with since, with only a high school diploma, she was able to be hold her own with many more learned folk.


Finally, as you all gather this weekend to celebrate motherhood, may your eyes be open to the "woman" your mother is/was; may you understand that she is/was also a human with heartbreak and triumphs the same as you; and may you cherish your memories now and for years to come.

Blessings to all!


Kathleen said…
Happy Mother's Day Ma. I wish I could spend it with you. You sorta made me cry a little thinking about Nana. I know she was your mom and that you must miss her very much. I miss her too. I love you lots and lots! call me soon!

Linda said…
I love you, too, Kitten. Talk to you soon...maybe even Skype!
Elizabeth said…
I miss all the Mommy's in my sister Mommy's, both my grandmother Mommy's, my aunt Mommy's, my boyfriend's Mommy, and especially my Mommy!!! I love every single one of you and you have each helped make me who I am! Happy Mother's Day to everyone!!! Love you all tons! And Thank you Mommy...I hope you have an unbelievably wonderful Mother's Day, wish I could be there. Love you
Linda said…
Love you, too, Bits. Talk to you on Sunday.

Popular posts from this blog

Hyacinths to Feed Thy Soul

Meaning of Quilts

The Pros and Cons of Teen Marriage - Guest Post