Sunday will be the eighth Mothers Day without my Mom. I no longer turn away from the greeting cards prominently displayed at Target. Pop-ups offering flowers interrupting my web-surfing don’t make me sad as they did. Yet, I still miss my Mom and wish I could tell her again – with new insight and fresh motivation – how much I love her.
A few days ago I even posted a request on Facebook: share your best suggestion for how those of us who have lost our mothers are to mark this weekend holiday. Friends offered some great ideas: make one of her favorite recipes, do something she enjoyed doing, share favorite stories about her with others, visit someone in a nursing home.
The suggestion I like best did not come from Facebook but from columnist Nicholas Kristof. The world community is increasingly aware and outraged by the 276 school girls kidnapped by religious fanatics in Nigeria. His “update” from yesterday deserves to be read [here] regardless of his great suggestion for celebrating Mothers Day.
Neither Mr. Kristof nor I begrudge anyone celebrating our mothers with flowers, chocolates or out-for-brunch. I wish my Mom were here to enjoy them. Kristof’s brilliant idea is to celebrate them by honoring the girls still missing in Nigeria. Think of their mothers’ anguish. In my family’s case this would be especially appropriate.
Regulars here will recall that my favorite Grandmother was orphaned at age 7 and sent from Boston to South Dakota on an orphan train. Her formal education ended at the third grade. My mother earned the highest score in her county on her eighth-grade standardized exam. However, cultural values prevented her from going to high school, despite the protestations of her teacher, because my grandparents presumed she had enough education for what they envisioned her future to be. (Read my previous post [here]).
The greatest threat to the extremism of the Nigerian kidnappers is a girl with a book. Boko Haram, whose name means roughly “Western education is a sin,” admits responsibility for this violent abuse being played out in Nigeria. The greatest antidote to their fanaticism would be to educate and empower women. I am absolutely certain my mother would agree.
Kristof offers a number of excellent suggestions: One would be a donation to support girls going to school around Africa through the Campaign for Female Education [link]; a $40 gift pays for a girl’s school uniform.
Or there’s the Mothers’ Day Movement [link] which is supporting a clean water initiative in Uganda. With access to water, some girls will no longer have to drop out of school to haul water.
You may wish to support something closer to home. This year I plan to send what I would have spent on flowers for my Mom to Avenues for Homeless Youth [link]. On any night in the state of Minnesota, 4,000+ youth and young adults are homeless and unaccompanied by an adult. Youth homelessness has jumped 63% in Minnesota since 2009.
Other than keeping the pressure of global outrage on the tragedy in Nigeria, there is little you and I can do to rescue the kidnapped girls. Whether our mothers are with us to receive our expressions of gratitude and love or they have passed from us, there is still so much we can each do to honor these girls and celebrate the lives of our mothers.
Let’s make them proud!
I, too, deeply feel the loss of my mom and get an uncomfortable twinge as I walk past the card aisle thinking, “I don’t have a mom anymore”. I did, however, buy cards for my daughter and daughter-in-law and am so proud of the mother’s they’ve become.
I also am deeply moved in sadness at what is happening to those girls. I have a few friends who are Nigerian and feel their pain that this could happen in, what should be, a strongly emerging African nation. It’s unimaginable to me that the Muslim community hasn’t spoken out and acted upon this outrage by what is being called an “extremist” group.
My prayers have been lifted daily for the safe return of these girls to their families, God’s protection over them, and God’s comfort for the mothers, fathers and families. What fear must be struck in the hearts of all that this could happen so ruthlessly. God forgive us.