Mother’s Day Thoughts

I thought about blogging about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keywords this week, and I will do that in the near future, but (1) I need to organize my thoughts a bit more about the subject, and (2) I decided to use this weekend before Mother’s Day to express some views about the particular holiday (if it is a holiday) and an imagined conversation between myself and my deceased mother (32 years this October).

One of the writers on our collaborative Boomers and Books blog wrote a post yesterday entitled Mother’s Day: Bah, humbug, which caught my attention. She was pitching her book but talked a bit about Mother’s Day, and why we feel the need to celebrate it, and what about those out there whose mothers are no longer with them?

It is a day of sometimes false, you-must-do-it-or-feel-guilty attention to Mom in the form of flowers and cards and Sunday brunch. “Make your Mother’s Day reservations early!” the signs in the restaurant advise. Yes, we wouldn’t want to be caught reservation-less on Mother’s Day. And get your Mother’s day cards now(!), so you aren’t left with the picked over lot. Visit your local CVS or Walgreens or Target card aisle early to avoid being left with the card whose sentiment in no way matches the particular relationship you might have with your Mom, or whose envelope is bent, or mismatched, or worse yet, missing altogether.

It has become a bit of a cheesy holiday to me, right up there with Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day, which are blatant attempts to sell stuff: Jewelry and cards and flowers and candy and “pajama-grams” and dinners out. Sweetest Day, never mind that it might be the dumbest-sounding non-holiday name ever coined, was probably dreamed up by Hallmark as a means to sell more cards, and the florists and restaurants and jewelers picked up on that. Genius! If it catches on, we got us one more day to guilt the men folk into buying “stuff” if they want to incur favor with the women in their lives. I will leave it to the individual reader to define the term “incur favor”.

My mother is long gone, and I don’t ever spend the day with my daughters, so I, for one, am glad when Mother’s Day is over and done with. It makes me feel a little melancholy, so maybe the hoopla and false sentiment encouraged by retailers is working on me.

It brought to mind something that I think about quite often, and that is, what would my mother say, if she could come back and visit me for one afternoon. I’d have to explain things to her, how things are so much different now than when she was still living, in 1979. We might discuss the family stuff, what happened to this person, and that person, her husband, her grandkids, or maybe she already knows all that, depending on what really happened to her. She was a good person and very religious, so who knows, if anyone is in heaven, I’d think she would have had a good shot at it. Here’s how the conversation would go.

“What is that thing?” she’d ask, as the cell phone between us started to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major.

“That’s my default ringtone,” I’d say. “I have different ringtones for my husband, and the kids, but this is the one I use for everyone else.”

She looks confused. I realize she wouldn’t have a clue what a cell phone is.

“It’s the way we talk on the phone now,” I say.

“You mean you don’t have the phones that sit on the desk, or hang on the kitchen wall any longer?”

“Some people still have them, but if you use them, the telemarketers will call during dinner and that gets people upset.”

“What’s a telemarketer?”

“That’s a person whose job it is to call you and sell you stuff. They want you to donate money or give them money for some other reason.”

“Oh. Where’s the cord?”

“It only uses a cord when I need to recharge it, when the battery runs low.”

“A battery? Well, okay. I guess I understand that. Can you hear a person’s voice on that thing?”

“Yes, and lots of other stuff too. I can talk on it, and get my voicemail, and get email on it, and listen to music and play games on it. I can access the internet on it, and…” I think maybe I should not have said all this.

“What’s voicemail?”

“That’s where people leave you a message if you don’t answer the phone, and you can listen to it later.”

“Sort of like a tape recorder then?”

“Yes, only we don’t use tape recorders anymore. You remember 8-track, but then we had cassette tapes, then CDs, now we download music directly from the internet.”

“Oh, yes you mentioned that before. What’s an internet?”

“It’s servers all connected together, in a network of networks, so anyone with a computer or a Smartphone like this, can have access to all those servers which all have different information on them. And a person can then Google anything they want to know about and the stuff all comes back in a list and then you can click on the one you want and learn about it.”

“Google? What’s that?”

“It’s a search engine.”

She looks confused by this.

“It’s a piece of software that keeps track of keywords and when people search, Google knows which places to go to get stuff that is all about that keyword,” I say.

“How does all that get onto that little thing?” She points to the phone.

“It comes through the air,” I say. “But, to be honest, that part is a mystery to me too. I don’t think I will ever completely understand how it works either. Men seem to understand it, and maybe some women too, but I don’t.” I say this, hoping she won’t ask me any more questions I can’t answer.

It works. She contemplates all of this.

“What’s that?” She points to the flat screen TV.

“Well, that’s a TV,” I say. Surely it can’t be all that different from what she remembers. “They have bigger pictures now, and they aren’t as heavy, and they are flat so they are called flat screens.” I reach for the remote and click it on, to show her.

“What’s that?” She points to the remote.

“It’s a universal remote, which you can program with your computer, to access all your equipment, and you set up activities and so when you click on an activity, it knows what to turn on.”

“Oh, my,” she says.

“Yes, it’s a bit different from back then,” I say. “Now we can access the internet from the TV, or the DVD player and stream movies and TV shows, whenever we want them.”

“Oh, my,” she says again. “That’s quite lovely.”

“Yes,” I say. “Some things are much nicer now, but other things, not so much. There’s more crime now, and we’re worried that the earth is warming, and the weather is much more severe, and we have financial crises and nothing seems to get done in Washington, because the Republicans and Democrats hate each other so they spend all their time fighting, and making each other look bad.”

“That doesn’t sound good,” she says.

“Yes, and we’re involved in two and a half wars, and ten years ago we had an attack in New York City where two planes crashed into the World Trade Center and both buildings fell to the ground.”

“Well, you know, that was bound to happen. It says so, in the Bible.”

“Yes, Mom, I guess it does say something like that. But I think you could interpret it a lot of different ways.”

“Who is the president? The last one I knew of was Jimmy Carter.”

“Ronald Raegan was president after Jimmy Carter. For eight years. You remember him, the actor?”

“Oh yes! I remember him in Dark Victory, with Bette Davis, do you remember?”

“No, not really. Anyway, after that, we had George Bush for four years, then Bill Clinton for eight years, then George W. Bush for eight years, and now Barack Obama.”

“That’s a strange name for a president, Barack Obama.” She looks puzzled.

“His father was born in Kenya. Lots of people are trying to say he was born there too, but he really wasn’t. It’s another example of people fighting today. It’s a lot different now, Mom. It’s not so nice as it was back when you were here.”

“Well.” She picks up the cell phone. “You have these wonderful inventions. This phone and that nice flat screen TV. These things are very nice. One thing I know for sure, you can’t have everything.”

“I guess that’s true,” I say.

2 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Thoughts

  1. Wow, I can just hear your mom talking! I know what you’re saying about Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day, too, I suppose), but of all the “manufactured” holidays, I think these two are pretty important. It’s one day out of the year when we should take time out to think about what our mothers and fathers sacrificed for us, how they cared for us, raised us, taught us right from wrong (hopefully), fed, clothed and disciplined us. As I say this, I do realize there are parents out there who did none of these things and deserve a jail cell in lieu of flowers, but I think the majority of parents do, and have done, the best they know how. Those of us who have lost one or both parents can still savor memories – not that we have to have a day to remind us to do that, but it just seems to me to be a special opportunity to celebrate them each year.

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