In search of story

Connections: May 13.18


It’s that time again: time to get on my apostrophe soap box. It’s “Mother’s Day” all over the place, but I insist on “Mothers’ Day.” Not only is it a day to celebrate all mothers, but it’s also a day that’s been so homogenized and hysterialized that Mom is what Hallmark has made her. Mothers’ Day hysteria hits hard. Now — heaven help us — there are even pop-up ads to remind us we need to do more.

Back in the day, it was simpler: you snuck someplace and made a heart-rending card out of construction paper and erasures. And you went hanky-shopping with your dad. “Hanky” is short for “handkerchief,” a decorative, often beautiful, piece of cloth we used to blow our noses in. Or for our mothers to spit on and wipe some goo off our chins. Or (we were Catholic) to plop on your head if you were a hatless woman (gasp) entering a church. Hankies were nothing if not versatile.

One year my brother gave Mom the Hope Diamond of hankies, lacy, white, with a very elaborate embroidered “M” on it, much to her bewilderment (her name was Evelyn). What’s the M for? she asked naively. “M for Mom!” he replied, with some exasperation — why did she need to ask?

After Mom died, I threw out many things, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw out her hankies, which now live in a drawer upstairs. Including the one with the flowing regal “M.”

Whatever your memories for the day, dear reader, I hope there is a mom or a grandma in your heart, on the phone, or maybe across the table. Maybe even an old hanky in your pocket.







8 thoughts on “Connections: May 13.18

  1. I’m one of your readers who remembers the power of the hanky, and many a hanky found its way to the top of my head as a child. I also remember ironing them and deciding whether to fold it in a square or a triangle. Mothers’ Day use to be about time spent with loved ones, a meal shared, and good conversation. Now, a lot of greetings are probably transmitted via social media. Nothing beats a good tweet. Here’s hoping you have a lovely day, Maureen. If only we lived closer, we could share a hot cup of coffee, a dessert of any type, and for sure good conversation and several laughs along the way. Happy Mothers’ Day.

    • Thank you, Judy! And a very happy Mothers’ Day to you too! I love the way you put it: “the power of the hanky”! I understand well why they gave way to the tissue and the wipe, but they were certainly powerful in their day. And don’t I remember ironing them! Here’s to dessert and coffee and laughs by proxy!

  2. I love this. Hope you’re having a happy day with those dear to you.

  3. I share your feelings about the impossible expectations that Hallmark (and we ourselves) set for the day, and appreciate your words. I treasure the construction paper cards, complete with misspellings but also loads of sincerity. I also treasure my mother’s hankies and love to look through them on occasions like this. To receive one with an M for Mom seems a very high compliment, indeed.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Bonny — it’s great to know that someone else has a mom’s hankies! I agree about the compliment in “M” and I think that became my mother’s favorite hanky. I agree about the misspellings; the sincerity comes shining through.

  4. I share your pedantic tendencies with apostrophes. Their misuse drives me crazy. Especially when used for plurals. I have a little cushion my daughter embroidered with a wobbly ‘M’. One of a few little homemade treasures so much more precious than anything that could be bought.

    • “The Wobbly M” sounds like a great title for a mystery. And it also sounds like a splendid Mothers’ Day present. A treasure indeed. Thanks for your thoughts!

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