Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Day for Remembering Mothers.


I can’t wait to get back to Greece.  There, at least, the relentless onslaught of pretentious, agenda-laden, ratings-driven media political analysts, candidates offering transparently undeliverable promises, and crowds cheering for more of their savior’s particular flavor of flimflam Kool-Aid, are all delivered in a language I barely understand. 

Then again, I can barely understand what’s happening in America, and fear it’ll all end in tears.

But I have no time for that now. It’s Mother’s Day tomorrow, and so to all you mothers out there, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! 

I bet most of you don’t know that our present day US form of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908 in West Virginia as a memorial service offered by Anna Jarvis (1864-1948) for her mother, peace activist Ann Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905).  It was in large part the relentless efforts of Anna Jarvis that drove President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 to sign a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May a national holiday to honor mothers.  Interestingly, Anna Jarvis later regretted the rampant commercialization of the day and tried (unsuccessfully) to have it removed from the calendar.

Mother Ann Reeves Jarvis


Although some also credit Mother’s Day to Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), another prominent social activist who in 1870 wrote “The Mother’s Day Proclamation” advocating June 2 as Mother’s Day for Peace, it was not her vision of Mother’s Day that President Wilson proclaimed a national holiday.  But Ms. Howe still holds national prominence in other ways, for not the least of her accomplishments was authoring The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Others, too, are credited for their efforts at establishing a Mother’s Day—notably Juliet Calhoun Blakely (a pioneer Michigan woman), Mary Towles Sasseen (a Kentucky school teacher) and Frank Hering (a Notre Dame football player and coach)—so to all of them moms across America should say, “Thanks.”

Mary Towles Sasseen (1860-1906)

Frank Hering (1874-1943)

Just in case you’re wondering what possible Greek connection there is to all of this Mother’s Day talk, permit me to answer in a My Big Fat Greek Wedding sort of way: A day celebrating mothers and motherhood can be traced directly back to the ancient Greeks.  Each spring they held a festival dedicated to worshipping Rhea, considered the “mother of gods” for her children Hestia, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus fathered by the Titan Cronos—a fellow best known for eating his children.  And, yes, in an act worthy of earning Rhea her very own Mother’s Day, mom helped to ultimately save them all.

Bravo, Mom!
(Rhea and Cronos, together again)

On a day honoring mothers, I sadly must take a moment to acknowledge that a true supermom passed away on Thursday.  Laurel epitomized all that it means to be a mother, not just to her and husband Ken’s children, Abigail and Andrew, but to all those she touched in a lifetime dedicated to children’s education, tireless service to Big Brothers Big Sisters, and just plain being there to effortlessly mentor so many others in so many ways, including my own son and daughter—and me.  We shall miss her dearly.  God bless your ever-caring, much loved soul, Laurel Spak Kahn (1945-2016).

Laurel on the right, at a Big Brothers Big Sisters event



  1. Happy Mother's Day, Jeff! (Someone told me you were a real mother...)

    To all the rest of the mothers out there, I hope that you get everything you deserve!

  2. You're just trying to scare me into thinking I'd forgotten Mother's Day, Jeff. In the UK it was back in March. I remember one year, having bought a calendar in the States, turning with a card and flowers for my mother who mocked my mistimed efforts ... until I tried to take the flowers back again ...

  3. Scare you? Never. Just read the US political headlines if you'd like that sensation, Zoë.