Mother's Day during coronavirus

A flower basket with a sign saying “Mama” stands in front of a flower shop for the upcoming Mother’s Day.

— picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images/Sebastian Kahnert

Today is Mother’s Day. For many of us, however, today will not seem like Mother’s Day. The things that many of us did in the past on Mother’s Days will not take place this year due to the impact of this coronavirus epidemic that is plaguing our country and the world.

Federal, state and local government mandates prohibit the things we did for and in recognition of our mothers from taking place this year. It will not surprise me if historians, in years to come, label Mother’s Day 2020 as the Coronavirus Mother’s Day of back in the day.

In the past, mothers prepared for their big day weeks before Mother’s Day arrived. Those whose mothers are still with them had also included their mothers in plans for a grand celebration. Some of you made plans more than a month ago that did not materialize today. You had pulled up the menu for your favorite restaurant and checked off appetizers, main courses and desserts that you would order. This clearly did not happen as there were no restaurants open for sit down meals.

Many of you may have done as I did and ordered curbside pickup for your Mother’s Day dinner. Unless the special ones in your lives had shopped on-line there were no new outfits; malls were closed, and the favorite specialty shops were shut down. There were no beauty parlors where one could get “dolled up” as these establishments had their blinds drawn tight or shades pulled down. A trip to the kitchen or basement for a straightening comb, to do it yourself was an option. But for what point? I was reminded of a response I read about from “Alexia” when asked about the weather. The response, “What difference does it make for there is nowhere to go,” was on point for this column.

The same response applies to getting a new Mother’s Day dress or suit and getting a manicure, pedicure or one’s hair done. What would be the point? Where would you be going?

The coronavirus pandemic has changed all of this. But, back in the day, a special meal at a favorite restaurant, a new outfit, a freshly done hair style, and maybe a new hat was routine on Mother’s Day.

There was no service in the sanctuary of your church today. Like many of you, I have been watching my church, The Salem Baptist Church of Roslyn’s Sunday Service by way of Facebook. Going to church on Mother’s Day was always a must-do thing. There was something special about being in church and observing children gathered with their mothers and/or grandmothers. Obviously, this did not occur on this Mother’s Day. We will not observe faces that we had not seen for ages. There will be no “EMC” churchgoers. These are the people that are in church on Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas, yes EMC’s. You know some of these people; they come to church on special Sundays, not to worship but to be seen.

This Mother’s Day may be the first in which you will participate in church service, perhaps still in your night clothing, seated in front of a computer for a Mother’s Day service. You will miss observing mothers and grandmothers wearing their finest, adorned with carnations of colors which designate if a mother is living or has passed away. The absence of flowers might be another aspect of Mother’s Day that will be different.

So where could you go to get roses or a bouquet of flowers to give to your mother? You must know that most flower establishments have been closed for weeks; they are not categorized as essential. As for the memories of Mother’s Day parades, especially on boardwalks down the shore, this parade was an event that many looked forward to back in the day.

Given “social distancing” today, reflecting on past Mother’s Days when you joyfully engaged in fond and warm activities with your mother is an option. Back then, many of us were not taking our mothers out to a restaurant for dinner. Our Mother’s Day dinners were typically held in the homes of our mothers. But this was not a possibility this year. Social distancing made it impossible for families to gather as they once did. Undoubtedly, you have photographs tucked away in the family’s scrap books. Viewing these photos will bring smiles but there will also be sadness; sadness because many of these mothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-law and those other images of strong and caring mothers, the cornerstones of families, are no longer around.

Perhaps you might take a moment to think about the home where you were reared and reflect on cherished memories of your mother, sitting in her favorite chair, wearing her favorite dress from a Mother’s Day of years past. If you are with your spouse or spending this Mother’s Day alone, I invite you to break out and sing one of your mother’s favorite songs. It might be, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” or “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” or some other song that elicit thoughts of your dear mother. You may want to reflect on one of those leisurely rides out to the park or memories of just sitting on the porch with your mother, your siblings and all of your mother’s grandchildren as these activities will not occur this year. The coronavirus has made these types of family gatherings on this Mother’s Day, just a memory from back in the day.

As I wrote this column, I wondered what my mother would say on this Mother’s Day, if she was still alive with regard to this coronavirus epidemic. You know that old-school mothers always had words of wisdom and were able to put things in proper perspective. I have no doubt that my mother, like many mothers of the past would say something such as, “I knew that this day would come.” She would even quote a passage from the Bible to account for what we are experiencing. Then my mother would tell me not to despair and remind me of the tough times that we as Black people have experienced.

Finally, she would remind me that we shall overcome this coronavirus pandemic just as we survived tough times of the past such as slavery, segregation, Jim Crow and other dreadful times that threatened our survival. Through the grace of God we survived tough times of the past and we shall survive this too!

My mother would bet that we shall celebrate Mother’s Day of 2021 in the manner in which we recognized previous Mother’s Days from back in the day.

Kittrels can be reached at backintheday@phillytrib.com or The Philadelphia Tribune, Back In The Day, 520 S. 16th St., Philadelphia, PA 19146

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