Mom did a good job

WAS God trying to tell me something?

If so, that Supreme Being as usual had the right idea.

I was attempting to write a column for today, but the ideas just weren’t coming. Of course, since this is Mother’s Day, that was the ideal topic.

I’ve written about my mother in the past, especially about her independent spirit and her love of history and reading so I decided to take another viewpoint and consulted Internet.

Facts are available on spending for Mother’s Day and about the origin of that special day, but the column just wasn’t going the right way.

Then – suddenly – the lights went out in The Times Leader during a storm, and the column disappeared from the computer screen.

Technically, of course, it wasn’t a bolt out of the blue. (The sky was anything but blue.)

Part of my column had been filed so it was available, but less than half was left. If that isn’t God trying to get a point across, I’m not sure what is.

Don’t get the idea, however, that this column is inspired- divine or otherwise.

As to my mother, the late Bessie Gatchel who lived most of her 92 years in the Barnesville area – I remember that I wrote a column about her when she reached her 75th birthday anniversary. At the time, she had been out cutting grapevines. After that column appeared, I didn’t hear from her for several days.

When we did talk later, she didn’t mention much about the column. Her one memorable comment was: “Now, I know how those Pokas children feel.” She was referring to the fact that I sometimes mentioned John, Judy and Jim in columns.

That was all that was said about the column written in her honor. Years later after her death, I found a copy of that column in one of her favorite books related to history. Even though she hadn’t said much about having part of her life revealed for thousands of readers, I thought the column had received a place of honor.

Historical facts were important to her. The Barnesville Hutton Memorial Library officials might not appreciate it, but if she found a statement in a book that didn’t jibe with most historical data, she’d correct it in the margin.

She was a quiet person but was forthright in making her opinions known if she thought something needed to be set right.

Mothers are being honored today in various ways, and the day itself has special significance as it’s the 100th anniversary of the day receiving an official standing after Anna Jarvis and her supporters lobbied for an official recognition of Mother’s Day. President Woodrow Wilson in May 1914 signed a joint resolution in May 1914, designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Honor has been paid to mothers down through the centuries, but Jarvis is credited with being the founder of this holiday. Never a mother, Jarvis was inspired by her own mother, Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis, an activist and social worker.

After her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis decided to fulfill her mother’s desire for a mother’s day.

Initially, she sent carnations to a Methodist Church service in Grafton, W.Va., to honor her mother. Not only was it her mother’s favorite flower, but it is said that Jarvis thought they symbolized a mother’s pure love.

Americans spend money on flowers, dinners and other gifts to honor their mothers. The National Retail Federation reports that total spending is expected to drop to $19 billion this year from $20.7 billion in 2013.

That’s still a hefty amount of funds, but if the truth be told, most mothers would prefer no gifts at all – just time with their children.

Internet shows a variety of gifts available. Among the funniest are those mentioned by David Moye in The Huffington Post. Showing weird gifts for weird mothers, he reports on such items as a Zombie Sleep Mask and a Shark Sleeping Bag.

The Zombie Sleep Mask with bloodshot eyes appears to be how a mother feels when she is waiting up for a teenager, but the Sleeping Bag looked rather comfortable.

Several websites list a dozen Brownies in a $40-range. (I’ll bet they can’t compare favorably with Grandma Riesbeck’s Brownies. Even a Brownie mix is good – I remember when I’d send Brownies back to college with my children; one would have thought they were gourmet Brownies.)

A gift isn’t necessary for mothers today or any day. Love and respect are more important than material things.

As to history and my mother, Ohio County Magistrate Joe Roxby, who has written several books and articles about the area’s early history, once asked why I knew so much about history, and I credited my mother. Joe commented something to the effect that “Mom did a good job.”

That’s how she did most things.

Pokas can be reached at