We all have our ways of paying tribute to the women who brought us into the world. Mary Annette Pember, an ICTMN contributor, wears a tattoo copy of her mom’s beadwork on her wrist. Contributor Gyasi Ross waxed poetic about his mother for ICTMN last year, as did a few dozen of our readers.
This year ICTMN invited readers to reminisce about their moms and aunties both. See the accompanying post for what you said about your aunts.
As far as our mothers go, gratitude was this year’s predominant theme, for moms both here and gone.
“Mom thank you Creator for this beautiful lady who birthed me,” wrote Jaz Deanna, signing off as “Deanna Williams n girls.” “We seven kids learned from [our] late dad to respect our mom. She's amazing for her teachings & love. Love you Mom.”
For many, Mother’s Day gratitude is bittersweet.
“Mother's Day is hard for me,” wrote Jess Mullins H. on Facebook. “However, I'll share: My mom died two years ago this coming Mother's Day weekend. A month before she died my mom decided out of nowhere, spur of the moment, to come visit me out of state. This was rare because my mother was poor, she was on disability and she was sick/had other issues. I hadn’t seen her in a while and she up and decides to come visit. When she was with me she talked about if she ever died. It broke my heart, and I just enjoyed my visit, made sure to get pics with all of my kids and myself too.”
On Mother’s Day that year, Mullins dialed her mom to wish her a happy one and tell her she loved her. Her mom didn’t pick up.
“She died in her sleep a couple days later,” Mullins wrote. While waiting for her husband’s military to come through so they could attend the funeral, Mullins fell into an exhausted sleep, crying, she said.
"She came to me in my dream and touched my forearm and said, ‘I am okay. I love you, and I am okay now!’ I woke up right after, and on that arm I could literally feel it. It was the most amazing thing ever and has never happened to me before and has yet to happen ever again. So while this is a sad story, it's also comforting to me."
At the funeral Mullins and her husband talked about having another baby, something they had been told might not be possible. But they said, “If we could, AND it was another girl, we would give her mom’s name,” Mullins wrote. She did, and they did.
“I guess you could say she gave me a couple unexpected gifts in a way. Funny how the universe works, isn't it?”
Donalda LaPierre-clement wrote about her departed mother as well, along with a tip of the hat to grandmothers. She has started a family garden, planting something for every passed-on relative. For her mom, LaPierre-Clemont planted a rose tree this year to commemorate her 2001 passing, calling her “the most loving mom.” She detailed “a life of heartaches” that included raising 11 children solo after being widowed in 1963.
“I miss her every day. I think how she taught us about life. And she was tough and never let us get away with anything. That made us strong,” LaPierre-Clement wrote on Facebook. “I love you Mom and miss you so. If God had a phone in heaven I would call, but I know you’re with me in my heart, as I walk this road of life, as you walked with all of your children.”
Nostalgia and gratitude teamed up for this memory of frybread from an anonymous commenter on Indian Country Today Media Network’s site.
“The first time my mom fixed frybread, it was for my 13th birthday (she'd been married to someone who oppressed our Native culture and wouldn't let us take part whatsoever … naturally there was a divorce). I'd had frybread before, but never my Mom's, and it was soooo good. There were a bunch of people over for my birthday. council members and elders mainly, and they all ranted and raved over her frybread too, joking that it was ‘Jesus Frybread’ just like from Smoke Signals. One of the elders even held his piece up and dramatically ripped it in half, immediately refusing to share.
“The smile on her face was so radiant that day,” the commenter said. “And it made me so happy; it's still one of my most memorable birthdays to date, all because of the love she put into making frybread for me the first time.”
Beyond the literal, the concept of motherhood extends to the spiritual.
“We were all born from women. And in the teachings of our people we understand that the life that we live was born from our mothers,” says Dave Courchene, Anishnaabe elder and a winner of the Indspire Award (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards) for Heritage & Spirituality.
“But we also extend that love and that understanding of our mothers to our grandmothers and to all women,” he said. “And it’s even extended in our understanding to the mother that is the mother in all life, which is Mother Earth.”
Happy Mother’s Day to all!