Labor leader Reverend Addie Wyatt (1924 – 2012) recalled her annual tradition growing up, with the help of the neighborhood kids: “When Mother’s Day came, I always wanted to do great things for my mother because I thought she deserved it. And she worked so hard and received so little. I learned to make flowers. I’d make roses and then I’d make… chrysanthemums. And I would box them up and get the children organized and tell them how we were going to make mother really happy for Mother’s Day. And I would send them up to the dime store. And they would sell their Mother’s Day flowers. And… when we would work during that period together… on Mother’s Day, we would give our mother twenty-five dollars. And I never realized until much later what twenty-five dollars were. But I would cut and sew and cut and make flowers for about three weeks. And… As fast as the children would go up to the dime store, they’d sell them out and have to come to get more.”
Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy, manager of the Silver Belles dance troupe, remembered: “Mom’s Day was a real day, because we did everything for Mom, you know. She had a tremendous day on Mother’s Day… we put on a play. We cooked dinner… She’d go to church and come back and sit and we’d put on plays and all kinds of things.” Model and entrepreneur Norma Jean Darden spoke of the delicious treats made for Mother’s Day: “My sister [Carole Darden] does all the desserts… for Mother’s Day we had apple pie that was just divine. And we had a double chocolate cake with raspberry frosting, very beautiful. And we had strawberry tarts.”
Former Secretary of the U.S. Army Togo D. West, Jr. (1942 – 2018) told of the tradition at his church: “We had a tradition on Mother’s Day… We would wear a carnation or a rose… in our lapels to church. If your mother was alive, it was red. If your mother was dead, it was white. Now, each year, I still try to do that just because it makes me feel like I’m back home.” Educator Virginia Edwards Maynor added that at her home church, Butler Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia: “My favorite time of the year was Mother’s Day because our minister’s wife, Mrs. Patterson [Willie Mae Freeman], was an outstanding vocalist, and she would sing ‘Mother Machree,’ that was one of my favorite songs.”
Art professor Della Hardman (1922 – 2005) shared the story of a memorable Mother’s Day for her: “Mother’s Day… [HistoryMaker] Andrea [L. Taylor] said, ‘Mom, can you pick me up at the airport at 10:30?’ I said, ‘Sure, I’ll pick you up on my way to church,’ …So I went to the airport at 10:30 and just as we were driving out, who should come running out the door, but my son [Francis Taylor, Jr.] from California. And… we hadn’t planned that. And there was Buddy, ‘Mom.’ I said, ‘Don’t do this. I’ll have a heart attack right here… at the airport.’ And he was only here for five hours. He had to go right back to California that day because he and Andrea had worked that out on the spur of the moment. And he brought me this little heart necklace which I cherish. And I have wonderful photographs of that surprise visit.”
We hope that this Sunday brings us other fond memories to savor for future Mother’s Days.