Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hank Sanders: Every day should be Mother’s Day!

  Mother’s Day was coming. I wanted to do something special for all the mothers in my life. In fact, I wished I could do something special for every mother in the whole world.

  Some time ago, Barbara Brown asked me to be the Mother’s Day speaker for the 11 o’clock services at Calvary Baptist Church. I felt strongly that a mother should be the speaker on Mother’s Day. Therefore, I did not feel worthy of filling that role.

  Sister Brown explained it so I could understand. She said, “This is a program to lift and honor mothers. You may not know what it is to birth a child, but you lift mothers as well as anyone. Nearly every time you speak, you lift your mother or some mother.” I still felt unworthy, but I agreed to speak.
  I rarely prepare for a speech before the day of the occasion. In fact, I rarely prepare before I’m on my way to the occasion. Many times it’s done while I’m waiting my turn to speak. This time it was very different.

  More than a week before Mother’s Day, I jotted down several thoughts. I also asked several women friends what to say on this special occasion. Each response included, but was not limited to, “speak from your heart” and “lift your mother.” I even asked a friend to look up information on the Internet.
  In my humble opinion, mothers are the most taken-for-granted creatures on Earth. They give more and receive less than any other people. In this earthly realm, they are blessings without parallel.

  Julia Ward Howe, who penned the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, understood how taken for granted mothers are when she held the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1872. It was, however, more than a day celebrating mothers: it called mothers to action in the fight for peace. In Howe’s words, “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters [war] to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?” This Mother’s Day effort did not catch on.  

  Anna Jarvis also understood when she launched a campaign for Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia in 1907. It began on the second Sunday in May as a memorial for her deceased mother, also named Anna Jarvis. She, however, extended recognition and appreciation to all mothers attending the memorial service. And that’s how it really began.

  Mother’s Day spread and by 1909, it was celebrated statewide in West Virginia. Anna Jarvis and others kept pushing, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

  As a child, I did not appreciate my mother. In fact, I was in constant and brutal battle with her. I’m so glad I grew to appreciate her before I ceased being a child. I’m so glad I had many years to truly appreciate her before she transitioned into the next life. She is gone, but she is still with me. That’s the way mothers are, even in death.  

  My mother was the central force in my life for many years. She continues to be a central force alongside other mothers: my wife who is mother to my children; my mother-by-marriage who is mother to my wife; my daughters who are mothers to my grandchildren; some wonderful friends who are mothers to others I love; and mothers by spirit who love and protect children regardless of who birthed them.  

  Mothers’ Day is a special opportunity for us to focus on the importance of mothers. Without mothers, we would not exist. Without mothers, we would not be as good humans as we are. Mothers are our first teachers. They are also life-long teachers. Mothers are our biggest supporters and biggest critics. They mold and shape us.  

  Mother’s Day at Calvary Baptist Church was special. I spoke from my heart. I hope I lifted and honored mothers. These were my last words: “Every day should be Mothers Day. Every day can be Mother’s Day. It doesn’t take much. All we have to do is show the mothers in our lives that we love and appreciate them. They might know it, but hearing and seeing it makes a big difference. It’s such a little bit for those who give so much. Mothers here and everywhere, I love you and I appreciate you. May God bless you this and every day of your lives.”  

EPILOGUE – After the Mother’s Day Service, one mother said, “I have to tell you that I thought it was a terrible thing for a man to be the speaker on Mother’s Day. Now I have to admit that this was our best mothers program yet.” Why can’t fathers/sons be speakers on Mother’s Day? Why can’t mothers/daughters be speakers on Father’s Day?

  Editor's note: This article was published in 2006 as "Senate Sketches #989."

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

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