That was a difficult day. But sooner or later most of us figure it out that mankind came into mortality for a grand purpose: to be tested and tried and to prepare for that eternal life that follows mortality. Yet for most of us, giving up close family members to death is hard - very hard - and most need a period for grief and mourning. For some the grieving process is short, for others it is often more difficult and stretched out over a longer period as with the death of small children. My son, Donald, died at age 11 in 1968. His death, while difficult, taught me much about death and what follows after death.
Religious and national customs often play a major role in the grieving process: some attend church more often while others establish memorials with churches or schools. It's all a part of one's personal grieving process.
For me, remembering mom was easy.
She was, for me, the ideal mother. It was she who gave me my mortal body to house my eternal spirit. It was she who cared for me, cried with me, and laughed with me for 93 years.
It was she who took me to the induction center when I went off to war.
It was she who worked with me for over 30 years gathering family names that are now bound in 12 books, with each book covering a different family line.
What choice memories these have been, and continue to be.
I will always remember mom and look to that day when we will once more be together, at the appropriate time and place, but for now it is time for each of us, mother and me, to be about our daily business, her there, me here. Joan, my wife, following mother's death, assumed her new role as matriarch of our large and ever growing family.
As special as mom was to her family of four, Joan is as special to our family. As I watch Joan in her role of mother and matriarch, I marvel at the love and compassion that flows from her actions and from her lips. Perhaps the greatest tribute ever given to a mother was given by Christ as he hung on the cross. It occurred while he was looking down upon his mother from the cross and said to his disciple, "Behold thy mother." And the record records: "And from that hour the disciple took her (Mary) into his own home." A bond between mother and child is real - eternal, a built in natural law.
Recently, I watched the tears flow from the mother of a newborn whose child was being given a name and a blessing according to our religious beliefs and customs. It was a tender moment. Her tears flowed through smiles of joy and happiness. As I listened to the sweet blessing given this child, by his father, I thought back to my own childhood days, remembering the lessons I learned from mother as she instilled in me a faith in God as she took me to church to be taught of God, and to learn how to communicate with God in prayer. These are powerful life-changing lessons every child should learn at the knee of their mother with a father giving assistance.
My life has been intertwined with the lives of many women, or budding women - great-grandmothers, grandmothers, my mother, my wife, six daughters, three daughters-in-laws, seventeen granddaughters, five granddaughters' in-law, and 12 great-granddaughters. And I cannot forget those ancestral grandmothers that date back to the early 1600s.
There is something special about these women in my life They all share something special with each other - they are all daughters of a loving Heavenly Father who sent them into mortality to perform a noble work: to become mothers and nurture and lead one or more of His spirit children back to Him.
Parents are given so little time to teach their children so very much. And most of that teaching comes from our mothers. Mother's Day 2011, indeed, should be a very special day for all who have mothers - and that includes everyone. Happy Mother's Day America!
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist living in Woodstock.