Mother’s Day 2020 will be remarkable for me in more ways than living in isolation and not being able to celebrate this year with my family. This is the first year in my life in which my mother is no longer with us. She passed away late last year just fifteen (15) days before her 97th birthday. In some ways, it doesn’t feel as though she is gone, because living in isolation would have precluded us from seeing her for a good deal of this year.
On the other hand, and rather painfully, I am nonetheless thankful to the Lord for taking her before this period of isolation set in. She would not have been able to understand reasons and processes associated with lockdown, isolation and no family visits to her nursing home.
Having been overtaken by dementia, Mother’s last few years became increasingly difficult not the least for her, but for my sister, brother in WA, our families and myself. We always used to joke that Mother would live to 100, and her quandary then would be whether to accept her letter from the queen (well, that would depend on the queen making it to 96!) or might that letter come from King Charles? My Mother’s intense pride in her Scottish roots, birth and heritage left her ambivalent to British royalty, hence our light-hearted speculations. But now these are rather sadly irrelevant…
Like so much of public life and events, the cavalcade of commercialism that also consumes us in early May, Mother’s Day 2020 will become a quiet affair unlike the busy days of past years. As a pastor, I’m always interested to observe that after Christmas and Easter, Mother’s Day services bring more visitors, especially of older ladies’ family members, than any other time of the year. We celebrate Mother’s Day at church by wearing a white flower, a chrysanthemum. We honour and thank our mothers (and rightly so) in worship for all they mean to us. I get just a little uncomfortable when some places of worship go a bit ‘over the top’ as they glorify motherhood. How often does the morning’s reading come from books like Ruth, Esther or Proverbs 31?
Then the roads fill with traffic while hotels, restaurants and cafes overflow with family gatherings for lunches and high teas. Our road trip on this day for so many years has been to the nursing home to visit my mother with a hope that she knows why we are there and that our gifts are acceptable and useful. Then it is all over for another year.
But as I look around many of the churches in which I have served, my celebrations for such a day are always tempered by the presence of single ladies, childless widows and women of all ages who for whatever reason have been unable to have children. On a day like Mother’s day, my heart goes out to them. So, I have tried to concentrate on giving thanks for everyone’s mothers, past and present – as all of humankind since Eve has been blessed with life through our mother’s giving birth.
But from there, my prayers have always included single and childless women as well as those who have lost children in adoption (especially from the bad old days when these had been forced upon them), miscarriage and abortion. Indeed, the saddest funeral I have ever conducted was one for a late term miscarried baby boy. His coffin, which sat on the cemetery chapel’s table, was no bigger than a little girl’s jewellery box.
So, as Mother’s Day rolls around again, it will be a different one in 2020, and for me it will be different in many ways. I will be excited to connect with my children and grandchildren by Face Time and I will call my sister and brother. There will be no visit to the nursing home, even if we had been allowed in and that will leave the biggest hole in the day, at least for this year.
Whether we pray for childless women through our church’s ‘zoom’ time worship or not, I will continue to pray for childless women across the world. And this year I will be redoubling my efforts to pray for women and their children in slavery and in refugee camps, particularly those across the Middle East as they face yet more horror and deprivations while COVID 19 threatens them too. Please join me in prayer for women everywhere as, like Eve, we have all been made in God’s image and are all worthy of His love and redemption too.
Glynis Dickins has pastured churches across the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Presently she is living at home in isolation with her husband Richard and their much loved chocolate lab x pointer doggie Boomer. Reading, writing, knitting and walking Boomer fill her days.