This Mother’s Day I shall wear red

Published 7:37 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

vividly recall as a child being in church on Mother’s Day and straining to see who was wearing a white or a red carnation corsage. I was incredibly grateful my mom was beside me with red flowers pinned to her dress. Life without my grandmother and mom was too horrific to ponder.  I remember the extreme sadness I felt when I saw the white carnations others wore on those May Sundays when spring was abundant with life.

White carnations were Anna Jarvis’s mother’s favorite flower. After her beloved mother died, Anna started to petition for a holiday honoring mothers in the early 1900s. She chose the white carnation in honor of the mother she missed so much. The red carnation later symbolized love and respect for the mothers who still were living. 

I was 23 and standing beside my grandmother when she first wore a white corsage to honor my great-grandmother on Mother’s Day 1971. I witnessed a tear fall from her eyes as I tried to combat the stinging behind mine. I realized no matter what age we lose our mothers, our eyes will brim with tears, and our hearts mourn when our mother no longer sits beside us on that special Sunday morning in May.

It has taken me longer than I anticipated to remember my mother as she was before her last year on earth. I watched this beautiful woman slowly decline from vibrancy to death every day for 12 months.   

After she died, I couldn’t erase the image of her last year nor the sadness within my heart. I tried in vain to visualize my mom in her younger days when she would get tickled over something silly we did or watch her drive a golf ball perfectly straight down the middle of a fairway. I longed to detect the sweet aroma of the apple pie she baked and taste the chicken only she knew how to fry. I prayed to remember the lady who would spend a day shopping with me for school clothes or the mother who would surprise me with a dress exquisitely created by her skill on the sewing machine.

I wanted to hear the voice she would use to calm me down or teach me a lesson with her amazing wisdom and grace. However, all I could see was the frail woman who held onto my hand in her last hour. In my mind, the pain she endured in dying seemed to have replaced the exuberance she embodied in living. 

I would study a photograph of her when she was in her thirties as if I was trying to recall who she was. I began to pray earnestly, “Please, God, take the image of mom’s difficult last days away and replace it with the sweet memories of her youth, strength and beauty.”

This June it will be eight years since my mother passed away. My prayers weren’t answered immediately, but instead revealed to me slowly in very unusual ways. One was in a dream.

I dreamed I was walking beside a water’s edge with a clean, sandy shoreline. The water lapped onto my bare feet as the falling sun caused the sky to turn rose and the calm water to sparkle.  In the distance, I noticed a woman strolling toward me.

A gentle breeze caused her pale dress to flow around her bare sun-kissed legs just below the knees. As I moved closer to her, I realized it was my mother, and I started to run. Before I reached her outstretched arms, I awoke to the morning sun.

When I walked into our kitchen to grab my coffee, my husband noticed I was humming a tune.  “What is the name of that song?” he questioned.

I suddenly realized I was humming an old gospel tune I heard many times in my grandparent’s Baptist church as a young girl: “There’s a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar;

For the Father waits over the way

To prepare us a dwelling place there. 

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

I no longer recall mother in the sad days of her life ending, but in the glorious days when she created art with a needle, when the aroma of sweet desserts wafted from her kitchen, and when she filled our home with love. Gratefully, today I only see her youthful, spirited soul walking to greet me on that beautiful shore.

This Mother’s Day I shall wear red because my mother’s love never left and still fills my heart with joy and a sweet heavenly song.