If I had written this piece with pen and ink, there would doubtless be tears on the paper.
Mother’s Day is always a tough holiday for me, because I lost my mom when I was only 11 years old. When I was a kid, there was a tradition in our church of all the men wearing carnations on Mother’s Day. If your mother was still alive, you wore a red carnation. If not, you wore a white one. We had a florist in the family, and every Mother’s Day morning involved a trip to her shop to pick up the carnations. I can still feel the hole in my heart from my first white-carnation morning.
Nothing has ever really filled that hole, and at some point in my life, I realized I had to let go of the idea that anything ever could.
But there are comforts — and particularly for me, I find them in music. The American musical canon is full of songs about mama. And almost of all of them are written about absent mothers, the ones who have gone on to their rewards. They are about the actions of mothers remembered, like when Dolly Parton sings about the coat of many colors her mother sewed for her from rags. They are the Stanley Brothers remembering how their mother left them her Bible. They are Iris Dement remembering her mother’s beautiful singing voice on the musical nights in her childhood home in Arkansas.
Mother’s Day is coming this Sunday, and unlike last year, many of us will be able to visit our mothers in person without having to wear masks. I’ll celebrate by visiting my beloved mother-in-law. All of us are vaccinated, so we’ll be able to hug each other just as we used to.
And as we drive to mama’s house this weekend, it will help to listen to some music that reminds of just how precious our mothers are, tunes that might inspire us to hug just a little harder and to love just a little deeper this weekend.
Enjoy these 20 songs as you travel.