Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 19, 2018

Empty Nest: Mother’s Day

By Curt Swarm

In case you’re wondering, like I was, the correct spelling for Mother’s Day, is singular possessive.  When Anna Jarvis trademarked Mother’s Day in 1912, she specifically noted the correct spelling, and wouldn’t sanction the plural possessive form, Mothers’ Day, recognizing all mothers of the world.  Anna Jarvis was a control freak.  She should have known that trademarking Mother’s Day or “the second Sunday in May” and creating the Mother’s Day International Association, was by definition, setting up a target for commercialization.  Seeing the resulting exploitation of the holiday, she tried to have it rescinded, but to no avail  She was even arrested for disturbing the peace when she protested a convention of the American War Mothers, who were selling carnations, the flower associated with Mother’s Day.  Taking on a life of its own, Mother’s Day had become bigger than Anna Jarvis.  She died bitter, alone, and childless.
In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, Mother’s Day was still sort of ambiguous or fuzzy in Midwest Iowa.  I don’t remember teachers goading and prodding us kids into making special presents for our mothers, like they did, say, for May baskets.  So, when my father came to me with that worried look in his eye, asking me if I was getting Mom something for Mother’s Day, it took me by surprise.  One: Dad never got presents for anyone for anything, and, two: Mother’s Day had never been a big deal in our home, why should it be now?
I had to admit.  Mother had us worried.  She was coming down with one of her “migraine headaches” and would be incapacitated in a dark room for several days while recovering.  We knew this to be true because, in knowing that the headache was coming on, she went to work and got a week’s worth of ironing done in one day.  That was my mother.
My mother also loved ice chips.  She would keep a glassful handy all day long and through the night.  But ice chips were work.  Her method of making ice chips was to beat up an ice cube with a butter-knife handle, cracking the cube into chips.  
Western Auto had an ice crusher.  I had been eying it.  The ice crusher was a lot like a meat grinder.  It attached to a table top, had a handle, and you put ice cubes in the top, cranked the handle, and it ground up ice.  This was before the time of ice makers in refrigerator doors.  But it cost a phenomenal $9.95!  We didn’t get allowances as kids.  We baled hay, walked beans, and detasseled corn, so I was broke most of the time.  But I pooled all the money I could beg, borrow, or steal, and came up with the amount.  Except that I forgot the tax.  Good-hearted ole Charlie Goodele, the Western Auto man, seeing my disappointment, waived the 2 percent tax, saying the governor would never miss it.    
On Mother’s Day, we coaxed Mom out of the dark room and presented her with gifts, along with breakfast that we made ourselves: side pork and eggs (broken yolks), oatmeal (lumpy), and mashed-potato patties (burned).  Dad even had a gift!  It was strangely the same size as mine.
Mom opened her gifts with trepidation, keeping one eye closed because of the migraine.  Yep, you guessed it.  Dad had given her an ice crusher, too!  Wouldn’t you know it.  The only gift I had seen my father give ever, and it turned out to be something I had given also.  I felt really bad for Dad.
But the migraine was over!  Glory be to God Almighty!  
I don’t know what happened to the other ice crusher, but Mom had ice chips galore for quite some time.  And she was back to her normal self.  
I wonder if this would have met with Anna Jarvis’ definition of an appropriate Mother’s Day celebration?
Probably not.  But who cares?   

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.  Curt also reads his stories at www.lostalkeradio.com.