Aging farm boy remembers Mother’s Day

Jerry Apps
Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, brings back many memories for this aging farm boy.

Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, brings back many memories for this aging farm boy.  Back in the later years of the Great Depression, my twin brothers and I had no money for fancy cards or any kind of Mother’s Day present. I‘d obviously heard that Mother’s Day was coming, because we’d made homemade cards at our country school.

I think it was Pa who suggested that we might pick some violets for our mother for Mother’s Day. On the far north edge of the woodlot, back of the house, was an open hilltop, where beautiful violets grew. I was but a little shaver, and my brothers were smaller still, but we found our way to the edge of the big woods and picked a nice big bouquet of violets.

When we arrived home, and stumbled into the kitchen with our special present, Ma was more than a little surprised. I noticed she had tears in  her eyes and I wondered why she was crying as she found a little jar, filled it water and put our violets  in it. Together we said, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

“Thank you, thank you,” she said. “What a wonderful Mother’s Day present.”

President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday on May 9, 1914, and that it should be celebrated the second Sunday of May each year. 

But Mother’s Day goes back a long way before 1914. After the Civil War, a group of mothers began working to organize a Mother’s Friendship Day, as a way to bring the Union and the Confederacy once more together. Other groups of mothers in the late 1800's saw Mother’s Day as a way to organize and promote world peace.

Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated in some 50 countries of the world. I read somewhere that more Mother’s Day cards are purchased than for any celebration.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Call your mother and wish her the best on her special day. You might give her some flowers as well.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to