Mother’s Day is a special day devoted to honoring individual mothers. In case you question the spelling or the placement of the apostrophe in the name, its acknowleged creator, Anna Jarvis of Canada, was very specific about both, especially the placement of the apostrophe. She wished the name to be a singular possessive, because she wanted to honor her own mother, first and foremost. Regardless of its spelling, over the years, Mother’s Day’s scope has been expanded to include honoring not only our own mothers, but the mothers of our children, our sisters-in-law, our grandmothers, and child-bearing or adoptive women in general. It has become a cause célèbre for retailers, restaurateurs, and florists, whose advertising campaigns begin months in advance of the day itself, in order to economically maximize the yield based upon our national sentimentality.
My own mother, Lyle Perrone, is no longer with us (she died in 2002), but I miss her dearly, and still have many fond memories of her influence on my life. I’d like to share just a few of them with you.
Perhaps my most profound memory is that of sitting on Mommy’s lap in the little apartment we occupied in the federal housing project in Brooklyn, and her reading to me in her soft, southern drawl (she was from Virginia, also my home state). I was probably around two years of age. She was a terrific story teller, and I can still recall one that she used to recite to my brother Gene and me (or perhaps it was a poem). It was about “. . . Professor Scoochiminachi, and his 14 nicarachis, who traveled 14 miles into the jungle on the Isle of Luzon . . .” (excuse the spelling, but I have no idea if there even was a spelling for those unwieldy names). She also told us a scary tale of an imaginary monster called “The Kolu,” which prompted my brother and I to hide from it under the sink in our kitchen.
Another recollection I have is of Mommy making butter and sugar sandwiches on white bread, and preparing a frozen dessert that she made in an aluminum ice cube tray (I think it was called Frostee). And she always baked a birthday cake on our birthdays. She also introduced us to yogurt (always Dannon) and sardines (I still have a fondness for both, and never fail to think of her when I’m eating one or the other—I can’t speak for my brother). I also remember sitting with her and listening to the Arthur Godfrey Show on the radio, and “Dr.” Carlton Fredericks, who was a kind of “nutritionist.” (As I recall, he was a proponent of wheat germ and iron supplements.) My mother also taught me how to sew a button on a shirt and how to darn a hole in a sock. (I wonder how many guys would own up to that?)
I remember that my mother was very religious, and had a soft spot in her heart for people she hardly knew. There was an elderly man named simply “John,” who used to come around to the apartments, selling all kinds of notions from a big suitcase he carried with him. Mom would always find an excuse to buy something from him, whether she needed anything or not. He had a big shock of white hair, and would always say, “God bless you, lady” whenever he would leave the apartment. And she was always contributing something to some organization or another.
So how will you celebrate this Mother’s Day? Will you honor your mother with a special dinner, perhaps a gift, or certainly a card? If she has passed away, I hope you will pause to reflect upon the special ways in which she touched your own life. Mother’s Day is only once a year, but the sentiment it evokes should be with us all year long.
Do you have a particular memory of your mother that stands out in your mind? What made your mom special to you? We’d love to have you share that memory with us.