Pam Cottrel

Cottrel: 1st Mother’s Day without mom a time to reflect on family

When I was a little girl all the ladies wore corsages to church on Mother’s Day. It was a big deal and we made a point to remind Dad to order Mom’s corsage. Mom always wanted something colorful and orchids were her favorites.

One year we dropped the ball. We forgot to order the corsage, but Mom was a sport and she pinned a beautiful sprig of purple lilac to her dress. We felt guilty but it smelled so good during church.

However, Mother’s Day in 1966 was different. Mom didn’t want a corsage.

RELATED: Cottrel: DNA test results a golden ticket for family history

You see the other part of the custom was that mothers whose mother was still living could get any color corsage they wanted, but mothers whose mother had passed away would wear only white corsages.

There were some odd customs back then. Some we have forgotten and some we still kind of follow.

Remember when we could not wear white shoes until it was Easter, even if Easter was late and it was 80 degrees on Palm Sunday? There could be no white shoes until Easter and none after Labor Day. Remember how only the bride could wear white at a wedding? On Mothers’ Day white flowers were reserved for those who had lost their mother. And that was that.

I thought it was a lovely custom, until I saw what it did to my Mom.

READ MORE: Tracing family history from Clark County to Scotland full of surprises

Mother’s Day 1966 would be the first Mother’s Day that Mom would have to wear a white flower. Mom would get tearful even talking about it. She didn’t want corsages any more. The joy in it was gone for her.

Since my mother passed away this January, this will be my first “white flower” Mother’s Day. Every time I think of it, I remember how it bothered her. Luckily over the years it got easier as less people followed the custom.

But how can it now be my turn to wear the white flower already?

It is not really done that much anymore, wearing corsages to church, but I think I might wear one this year. I’ll wear white to celebrate, not to mourn.

I want to celebrate Mom and her mother and the long line of grandmothers before her; Mary Lou, Nell, Nina, Mary, Charity and Isabella. Since we learn how to be a mom from our mothers, these are the ladies who made me the mom I am. Isabella is the farthest back I’ve been able to find. I haven’t found her maiden name yet, but I know she came from Ireland.

DETAILS: Cottrel: Winter makes decorating grave site a challenge

I’ll wear the white flower to say thanks for all the mothering skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. Thank you for teaching me to say prayers, for the special recipes, for the “mama cat” face washings, for helping me understand that family supports each other through thick and thin, for hugs when I cried and for teaching me how to soothe a baby.

I will wear the white flower with a smile. Thankful for the moms who went before me and showed me the way. And I am thankful for those little granddaughters at my feet in the family portraits, young ladies who will need to learn the things that were passed down through the generations and keep them close to their hearts.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.