In past years, I have reviewed the history of Mother’s Day and told of how my mother, after gathering her family around her, died peaceably, slipping silently from mortality into immortality with a smile of peace and contentment on her face.
She is still missed — and always will be. Our 70-year mother-son relationship was special. She and I worked together for more than 30 years locating family ancestors and recording them in 12 family history books. Mother knew where every branch and twig fit on the family tree.
Researching and publishing our family history helped me know my grandmothers for generations back to the early 1600s. They were strong women. They had to be. Vicariously I walked with them as they boarded small sailing vessels in the 1700s and 1800s in Scotland and Ireland, surrounded by those left behind and crying children, then spending several weeks crossing the torturous Atlantic Ocean.
I helped them carry on board their supplies sufficient to last 18 months. And I helped them bury those who died at sea, or at their ports of entry, or inland as they build their homes in the wilderness.
Once in America, I again walked with those women through the forests, hovering with them over open fires to keep the wolves at bay and cooked with them over open fires until their husbands could build a lean-to or a small log cabin. One grandmother tells of listening to “wolves hungrily howl a short distance away” with only a blanket-door separating them.
Another tells of a great-great-grandmother walking “across the mud flats of Toronto,” in the dead of winter, carrying a 2-year-old, my great-grandmother, and sitting on logs crying, not wanting to go on.
But with help from a loving husband, they arrived at their destination where they built a one-room log cabin in the wilderness. They were my ancestral mothers — strong women — and mothers of large families. Some died in childbirth, often alone in the wilderness. Others lived to be a hundred, surrounded by family.
Tracing my family history helped me learn that each generation faces its own unique challenges. It is easy to think our ancestors’ challenges were greater than today’s challenges.
They faced four-legged wolves in their wildernesses: Today’s wolves are drugs, pornography and immorality. Their generation built a nation of freedom with faith in God. Our generation wants to rid America of God and restore the slavery their ancestors fled.
History reminds us no nation has ever long survived ignoring the Laws of Nature’s God.
My life has been intertwined with the lives of many strong women, each unique in her own way: great-grandmothers, grandmothers, a powerful mother and wife, six daughters, three daughters-in-laws, 16 granddaughters and 16 great-granddaughters and one great-great-granddaughter. 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 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; to birth and nurture one or more of his spirit children.
These women have each blessed my life. My mother nurtured me. My grandmothers trained and helped my mother. My wife loved me, and together we created our own family, watching it grow exponentially.
My daughters helped me to see the hand of God at work in them, watching that innate female computer chip implanted in each of them move them from childhood to adolescence to motherhood and grandmother-hood. It is a wonderful plan to watch in action.
It’s a plan that provides purpose, gives meaning to life, and brings joy to one’s soul — an everlasting joy that only a mother or father can fully appreciate. Mothers have been endowed by God with a built-in nature that allows them to go into the valley-of-the-shadow-of-death to bring another spirit into mortality, then to love and nurture them and prepare them to become responsible adults to perpetuate nature’s cycle of life — his great plan.
Yes, Sunday is a special day for all mothers. Cherish that special one that gave you life, and remember the words “I love you” will endear you to your mother even more.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.