An estate sale purchase of a box of vintage goods contained the most wonderful surprise: a telegram dated May 8, 1938.
Wired 76 years ago, the paper is softly faded, yet bears not the slightest tear. I imagine this telegram was stored safely in a scrapbook or empty Russell Stover candy box by the recipient, Mrs. Foquet. Perhaps Beth was her daughter, and had become a mother for the first time during the past year or the message was her way of sharing the news of her first pregnancy. Whatever the reason to Beth’s sending the telegram, Mrs. Foquet deemed it a keepsake.
My mother also kept the Mother’s Day cards she received from her six children. Following her move from the family home to a small living space, she returned to each of us the cards we’d sent her throughout our entire lives.
Such an amazing gift, to see in my own handwriting a note declaring my love and admiration for her. Written when I was nine, I shed a few tears for the days when our relationship was not so loving. With Mama long gone, it’s these Mother’s Day love notes that bring me comfort, as keepsakes do.
In kinship with Mrs. Foquet, I, too, deem Mother’s Day a keepsake occasion. I’m eternally grateful to my sons’ primary teachers for making sure I received their handmade gift efforts of a pencil holder/decorated orange juice can, handwritten poems copied word for word off the chalkboard, and my favorite – magnetized clothespin holders bearing their first grade school pictures, which are today still clamped to the refrigerator.
It’s interesting to note that Anna Jarvis, the creator of Mother’s Day, wouldn’t have been happy with the commercial gift-giving that is a part of today’s Mother’s Day celebration. Over 100 years old, the first Mother’s Day was organized by Anna in 1908, as a way of memorializing all mothers and their dedication to nurturing their families. As the celebration became a retailer’s holiday, Anna was known for berating those she deemed too lazy to write a personal note to the woman who’d raised them. At one point, she was arrested at a Mother’s Day celebration and charged with disturbing the peace.
Anna never married and spent her elder years in a facility. She died in 1948, without the knowledge that her care was paid for by the florist industry.
Flowers are lovely and on Mother’s Day, practically de rigueur. But when it comes to the accompanying card, Anna had it right – there is only one true gift: a handwritten note.