The name Ann is part of Mothers Day for me. The person who had the original concept of Mother’s Day was named Ann, her daughter who pushed the idea of Mothers Day forward after her mom’s death was named Anna and my own mother is named Anne. To differentiate my mom from his other grandmother, my son started to call her “Grannie Annie.” That name gradually evolved into the nickname of Annie Banannie from my dad.
Mother’s Day is a modern celebration of all things related to our own mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in general. The concept first originated in1868, when Ann Jarvis established a meeting for mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War. She wanted to expand this into an annual memorial, but she passed away before that happened, so her daughter (Anna) would continue the task.
In 1914 Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May, as a national holiday to honor mothers. Only six years later, by the early 1920’s, Hallmark and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards, making the holiday as much about sales as about moms.
Even though Anna Jarvis was successful in making Mother’s Day an annual holiday, she soon became resentful that companies were using the holiday to pad the bottom line. She even tried to eliminate Mother’s Day as a holiday. Her intention for the holiday was for people to show love and appreciation to their mothers by writing a personal letter, rather than buying gifts and pre-made cards. The day that she had worked so hard to create was supposed to be about sentiment, not about profit.
Mother’s day is time to reflect on the gift God gave us when he gave us our mother. God blessed me when he gave me my mom. She taught me many good things that have served me well over the years. I can remember her sitting at the dining room table with a green metal box, where she kept the checkbook and the bills. Each Sunday evening she would sit down to pay the bills for the week and figure out how much money was available for the weekly spending. I learned a lot about being a good and faithful steward, a careful spender and a consistent saver from her and my dad.
And like most moms, she had her favorite sayings, which I used on my son, who is now using them on his three boys. “It’ll be better before you get married” was always used when I was sad or hurt. “If you are bored, I’ll give you something to do” was the response on those long lazy summer days when the time seemed to drag because it was too hot to do much of anything and there was no air conditioning in the house. “You won’t see him this much when you get married” was said a lot when Jon and I were dating and just could not seem to spend enough time together. (Since we both traveled extensively for business and were often in different cities or even on different continents after we were married, she was really right about that one!)
She hasn’t said those mom-isms in quite a while now and I am not even sure she would remember them. She is 95, and often does not know who I am when I call or visit. She spends her day sitting in her favorite chair “cutting coupons” (often without using either scissors or coupons.) While she does not have any specific physical illness, she is declining and it’s often hard to have a conversation with her. I pray for her daily and ask God that when her time comes, it will be peaceful and pain free.
I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to thank her when she still had the ability to know and understand what I was saying. And I want to encourage each of you reading this to thank your mom in person and to thank God for giving her to you. Tell her how much she means to you and what influence she has had on your life. Pray that God will bless her and give her strength and good health to continue being His instrument of love in the world. And if your mom is no longer alive, pray for the repose of her soul and in thanksgiving for the gift she was to you.
“The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a Mother.”
-St. Therese of Lisieux