Mother’s Day is celebrated internationally this month! Did you know that this holiday was first celebrated in 1907, when Anna Jarvis held the first Mother’s Day worship service at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia? Jarvis worked hard to make Mother’s Day a national holiday as she felt national holidays were oriented toward men, and her efforts paid off when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Later, when she felt Mother’s Day became too commercialized, Jarvis who had never married or had children lobbied unsuccessfully to take it off the calendar. Andrews Methodist Church is now the site of the International Mother’s Day Shrine.
If your mother is still living, you are blessed! Take time to honor her on Sunday, May 14, 2023 this year as well as every day! Be sure to ask her questions and learn more about her while you can. How I wish my mother were here to ask some things I didn’t inquire about while she was living.
My late mother had an unusual birth for 1930. While most children of that time, especially in Criders, Virginia, where she lived, were born at home, my mom Eileen Mae (Dove) Stultz was born in a hospital. Her aunt, Odessa Whetzel Moyers, who was just a few years older than my mom, remembers the ambulance coming when my grandmother Bessie Lee (Whetzel) Dove had complications in labor. I had never thought about where mom was born until I started research for this article.
Born during the great depression on April 3, 1930, my mother spent her early childhood with her grandparents George and Sarah (Yankey) Whetzel while her parents went to work in a logging camp. Besides Odessa, she also grew up with her late aunt Pauline (Whetzel) Peers Schloder who later moved to Philadelphia where she was a nurse. I wish I had asked my mother or grandmother where the logging camp was located. Odessa thinks it was in Dickenson, Maryland. Denyelle Dove Stroop told me that her great-grandfather Pop George B. Turner had several logging camps on the Shenandoah Mountain, one near her Uncle Casper’s place which one went through Criders to get to, as well as other logging camps in Runions Creek.
My dad Owen Guy Stultz died in 2000, and my mother lived as a widow until 2018. Although my siblings, her grandchildren, and I visited and called mom often, I never really thought about how difficult it was to lose her husband and live alone after 50 years of married life until I lost my husband in October, 2022.
My late mother-in-law, Glenna Hall (Wittig) Whetzel, also had an interesting life story which I wish I had asked more about while she was living. Glenna was in the Women’s Army Corp (WACS) stationed in Carlsbad, New Mexico and also in Louisiana. She brought her good friend in the WACs Anna Grace Cosgrove from Cheswick, Pennsylvania, home with her to visit. Anna met Glenna’s brother Wilbur and later married him and had two sons Ron and Barry. Anna spent the rest of her life in the Fulks Run area. I recall Anna telling a little about life in the WACS during Glenna’s funeral, but I wish I had asked Glenna and Ann about their experiences which were unusual for a woman back then.
I was lucky to have both of my grandmothers around while I was growing up, as well as two great-grandmothers on my mom’s side. Of course, there are many things I wish that I had asked all of them while they were still here!
The novel called Things I wish I Told My Mother by Susan Patterson and Susan Dilallo (with James Patterson) is a recent best seller; the book in my head would be titled Things I Wish I Asked My Mother. My sister Eleanor (Stultz) Heishman recently said “How I wish we could talk to her now” when we were sending messages through our family Facebook messenger group about our mom’s childhood. Kudos to all of the family historians who are recording family history for future generations. And this Mother’s Day, ask YOUR mom a few things about her and her family before it’s too late. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms reading this and the wonderful people who have been like a mother to others!