Have you ever noticed a curious inconsistency in our U.S. holidays? It’s the apostrophe.
Valentine’s Day separates the “s” from the singular Valentine. Who sends just one Valentine? Patriot Day — September 11 — has no plural, but we know there were plenty of patriots that day.
Mother’s Day they have right.
By placing one little apostrophe where it is, we not only commemorate mothers in general, we are celebrating the mother most meaningful to our existence. Ours.
The apostrophe between “r” and “s” indicates we mean one. Singular. We obviously all got here that way — one mother. A single woman. Although, if you get technical, we are where we are by virtue of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers on back.
Everyone has a personal perception of mothers based on our experiences with them. For most of us, our memories are special, beautiful recollections.
Sadly, for others, situations can sometimes alter our awareness of our mothers. An early death, a separation, a strained relationship all influence how we feel about the first woman we ever knew.
Fortunately, my Mother and I were extremely close. We liked the same things, the same food, the same kinds of humor. We argued the same way. We laughed uncontrollably, and didn’t care what other people thought of us when we did.
My Mother was an eccentric. She liked to sew her own clothes, and always chose fabrics in a kaleidoscope of colors, like wearing the flags in front of the United Nations. She liked color. She was color.
My memories of my Mother are so plentiful that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. Most are absolutely great memories. Nearly always my recollections involved laughter, or food — or both. Sometimes, the memories were scary — like the time when I was a boy, and my Mother bent down to kiss me goodnight, just as I raised up. It was a cataclysmic blow to her nose that knocked her out cold.
I’m shaking right now thinking about it.
My Mother has been gone nearly a decade, and there isn’t a single memory that isn’t special to me. Every memory tells a story of our lives. Memories define our past and anticipate our futures. Stories, which are really just memories put to words are our foundation — the foundation upon which we build our own memories for the next generation.
Is your mother still living? Then let me suggest to you that the best way to honor your mother on Mother’s Day is to tell her story. Grab a digital recorder or cell phone. Take pictures. Listen and record her stories. It is the best way to keep her familiar to your children.
Don’t be afraid to chronicle the commonplace. The big memories are effortless to recall. Little things are fleeting. Yet, the little things are the one’s that one day will make you smile most. Those are the things we seldom ever notice.
Like that little apostrophe.
John O. Marlowe is a reporter, sports writer and award-winning columnist for The Paper.