In search of story


Question for Mothers’ Day

So it’s Mothers’ Day. Hooray for Hallmark.

Everyone spells it Mother’s Day, as though it is something unique for each mom, but, unless you have a four-year-old turned loose with crayons and glue stick, there is nothing very unique about it at all, and so I spell it Mothers’ Day by way of protest. It’s one-size-fits-all because it markets well. Buy something, anything! Prove you love your mom! I have two wonderful sons. They don’t need to prove anything on Mothers’ Day. They probably wouldn’t agree, but, hey, I’m the mom and it’s Mothers’ Day, so I’m right.

I am busy with my own Mothers’ Day thoughts, which have turned back to my grandmothers. Perhaps you have met them in my blog. One was kind; one was not. Each shaped me.

Both were daughters of immigrants. Both were born into poverty, one in the coal country of Pennsylvania and the other in a back-of-the-yards tenement in South Chicago. Neither finished grade school. One went to work in a box factory, gluing velvet to the insides of boxes; the other went to live with another family as their servant. Both had alcoholic fathers who were not admirable men.

Both worked very hard. Both held staunchly to the faith taught by their own mothers.

Both died at 90, so they weren’t just wispy aproned memories from my childhood; they were flesh-and-blood women who walked firmly in the day-to-day of family. They held my hand and held my babies.

I knew them as mothers of my parents. But who were they before they were mothers?

And that, daughters and sons of mothers, is the question for Mothers’ Day.