Esther K. ShimrayAt this time of the year, when the Second Sunday of May approaches, our thoughts turn to the affectionate, caring, loving and gentle person in whose arms all seek comfort and solace. From the cradle to the grave, man’s life is a tortuous journey with its ups and downs .Many would have given up when the going gets tough but for mothers who undauntingly pressed them on.Down through the ages, mothers have been showered with countless tributes and epithets. If these were all written down one by one, I believe that the whole world could not hold the books that would be written. All that I am or hope to be,I owe to my Angel Mother.. -Abraham LincolnI remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.They have clung to me all my life. -Abraham LincolnThe Mother’s Heart is her child’s classroom. -Henry Ward BeecherMothers hold their children’s hands for a short while but their hearts forever. -UnknownThe noblest calling in the world is that of mother. -David O McKay As a tribute to mothers the world over, the second Sunday of May is celebrated as Mother’s Day. Contrary to popular belief that the observance of Mother’s Day is an age-old practice, it may be quite interesting to note that the practice of observing the Second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day has its beginning only during the later part of the first decade of the last century.As a mother is the synonym of devotion, compassion, love, care, concern, gentleness and all the finest qualities that a human embody, the story behind the observance of Mother’s Day is also a saga of compassion, love and devotion.It all began in 1864 when an American couple were blessed with a lovely daughter whom they christened Anna Jarvis. The dotting parents brought her up with love and affection. Anna was especially close to her mother which made it difficult even to attend a college away from home. Her mother’s admonition and the determination to earn a degree inspired Anna to become a certified public school teacher. The close bond between Anna and her mother was further strengthened when her father died in 1902, leaving Anna grief- stricken.Three years later, in 1905, her mother too, passed away. The melancholic and heart-broken Anna thought only of her mother for months together. At the same time, she was consumed with guilt for all the things she had not done for her inspite of the fact that by every measure, she had been an extremely devoted and exemplary daughter.Between 1905 to 1907, she reflected upon the things that her mother had taught her. Whenever she saw the image of her mother, she broke down in tears, painfully longing for the tender caress of her mother. She thought of all the people around her and often found that many of them neglected their mothers. Anna was gripped by a consuming desire to rectify that neglect. After a long- winding journey of thought lasting for two years, her burning passion bore fruit when an idea was born in 1907. On the second Sunday of May 1907, which was the death anniversary of her mother, Anna Jarvis invited a group of friends to her home and announced her idea – an annual celebration in honour of mothers to be called Mother’s Day. The idea was unanimously accepted.When she shared her idea with others, it was widely supported with no father dissenting, every child concurring and every mother feeling that such a recognition was long overdue. A leading American cloth merchant of the time, John Wanamaker volunteered to offer financial support. Anna contacted the Sunday school Superintendent of a Methodist church where her mother had taught for over 20 years expressing her view that the church would be an ideal location to honour her mother. She also said that all mothers would receive recognition on that momentous day.So, May 10, 1908, the second Sunday of the month launched the continuing tradition when the first -ever Mother’s Day was celebrated attended by about 400 children and their mothers. Anna gifted all the mothers and children a flower each. The minister’s text on that first Mother’s Day was John 19:26-27 – Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there; So he said to his mother,” He is your son.”Then he said to the disciple,” she is your mother.” From that time the disciple took her to live in his home. After the celebration, Anna realised that what she had initiated that day was just the beginning if she wanted nation-wide acceptance. Therefore, she embarked upon what has been called as one of the most successful one person letter-writing campaigns in History. She wrote to Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, Editors, Clergymen, Laymen and Business Executives who would listen. They enthusiastically responded with editorials, sermons, political orations and house to house campaigns.From 1909, Villages and towns began unofficial observance of Mother’s Day. Since 1912, the Governor of Texas has been observing the day by pardoning a number of prisoners. Then, state after state adopted its observance. Pennsylvania observes the day as a State holiday.The cherished-dream of Anna Jarvis was finally realised when the President of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation on May 8, 1914, declaring the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day dedicated to the memory of the best Mother in the world-“Your Mother.” By May of 1911, the observance of Mother’s Day had spread all over Latin America and the Orient. However, it took some more years for the idea to gain world-wide acceptance. It is customary for sons and daughters to wear a pink carnation if their mothers are alive and white if they are no more.On this Second Sunday of May ,as the world celebrates the 104th Mother’s Day, let us all join in to celebrate the meaningful event with the rest of the world and give mothers something in return for their unadulated love and say, “Thank You Mother!” Happy Mother’s Day dear Mother! May your tribe increase!