Mother's Day of this year of 2013 is now passing, bringing thoughts to my mind of the mother I knew so many years ago. She was a nurse, a woman who served others through the kindness in her heart, yet she was denied the same kindness in many ways that she provided to others. In her time during the late 1960's and early '70's, nurses wore all white, to include a starched white cap. I do not remember her so much in this way.
A celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in March or May. The modern holiday of Mother's Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother in Grafton, West Virginia.
Instead, I remember my mother as the alcoholic she became, as a person who suffered great anguish at the hands of a medical system that was woefully incapable of assisting her. I remember my mother as a person who fought valiantly against a foe she could never possibly beat. Her enemy was a mental health disability that at the time was not understood to any great extent at all.
As I watch others celebrate Mother's Day each year I tend to think about the great fortune they have. Children smile as their mothers hug them and tell them how much they love them. Teenagers do the same while trying to remain, 'cool,' and then gripe about curfews for example. Adult children bring their mothers flowers and other gifts, smiling as they take their mothers out to dinner. Yet what is the real meaning of Mother's Day
The Meaning of Mother's Day
For many people, Mother's Day is another day on the calendar, one that is meant to be celebrated with flowers and chocolate boxes. I have never really had a clear understanding of why. Mother's Day is a celebration of life. It is a day to celebrate the life your mother has given you, to celebrate the life you have had with her, and to show respect for the endless amounts of effort your mother has spent in an attempt to love you and raise you.
My own mother left my life, and everyone else's, when I was nine years old. I have not had the opportunity to celebrate Mother's Day for the vast majority of my life. For a person like me, Mother's Day is one I spend observing the celebration others enjoy as I wonder what it would be like to have parents who were active in the parenting process. As you observe Mother's Day, please bear in mind that it is very much about not only the life of your mother and yourself, but the lives of those around you and their mothers as well.
Lost and Found
The disability that claimed my mother's life was not clearly defined due to a lack of adequate knowledge during the era in which she was alive. Some health care professionals declared that she had schizophrenia, others stated that she experienced anything from what was emerging as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) aggravated by alcoholism to psychotic features, chronic depression and more. Despite the immense number of challenges she faced, my own mother still did her best to demonstrate the love and care she had for my brother and I when we were very young.
We lost my mother to suicide, something that was impossible for the rest of my family to bear. At my young age I had no real understanding of what had taken place; my younger brother certainly did not. It was not until we became a bit older that we began to understand the mother we had lost.
Yet we found that despite the loss of our mother, we still carried with us some very wonderful memories. Through pictures taken of birthday parties, family photos, artwork and other things we found a solace unobtainable through other means. We found ways to celebrate the mother who had been happy at one point.
The Destruction of Family
The medical community has divided the human body, to be plain. Medical professionals have separated the human brain and mind from the rest of the human body. The fact that this approach has been taken finds people struggling to receive the mental health care they desperately need.
Sadly, it also finds families being destroyed. As this Mother's Day passes, it is my greatest hope that the medical community decides to change to a far more holistic approach to health care and view the whole of a person's health care needs instead of separating their mind/brain from their body. In the decades since my own mother died, the separation of mind/brain from body has achieved precious little where public bias towards people with mental health disabilities is concerned.
Family members who find themselves unable to manage relationships with loved ones who have a form of mental health disability often times pursue a separation from their loved ones in an attempt to find a sense of peace - this is exactly what my father did. While this may or may not be understandable, doing so was like pouring salt on an open wound where my mother was concerned. She was aware that she had a serious disability; she knew why my father wanted a divorce - yet the result was the taking away of her sons and the end of the love relationships she had known on top of the disability she was already struggling with.
How many people are dealing with just such a scenario this Mother's Day? I sometimes wonder. In a world where people can own a smart phone with more computing capabilities than the first computer I owned, where they can own a car that has its own computer and a USB port - I also wonder why the medical community is still so far behind on mental health care.
Resolution and Inner Peace
Another Mother's Day is here and will go away; how many people have the ability to celebrate it and remember something positive about their mother, or tell her that they love her to her face and give her a hug? Hanging on the wall next to me is a picture of my mother, my grandfather and I. She is smiling as she holds me, and I am very grateful for that picture.
'I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.' ~ Abraham Lincoln
While I am unable to tell my mother that I love her and give her a hug or give her flowers, I can celebrate her life. She was a wonderful woman who loved my brother and I. She served others as a nurse, providing health care to those who needed it most. I find great peace this Mother's Day in the knowledge that she was a kind, caring, loving person who faced a form of disability no one should ever have to. My mother was the very image of strength in the face of adversity, and I am proud of her.