Mothers have been much in the news this past week, a fitting build-up to today, when we pause to honour those other less-famous moms, past and present, who have touched our lives. Which mothers made headlines this week? Gleaned from recent media reports, here is a short sampling of stories, some tragic and more joyous.
Meghan Mother: Let’s start with an obvious choice; on May 6th, the Duchess of Sussex gave birth to her seven pound-three ounce son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. As Meghan went into labour, one television reporter dramatically proclaimed: “The world is holding its breath.” I confess that I was not holding my breath nor even remotely interested, although I admit to being caught off guard and momentarily intrigued when his proud parents labelled the little guy “Archie.” I know he is an unlikely only # 7 in line for the throne but—”King Archie” just doesn’t sound right. More importantly, Meghan and Prince Harry are thrilled as are royal-watchers around the world who apparently can collectively stop holding their breaths.
Mediterranean Mother: On May 10th, far from the safety and comfort of an English labour and delivery room, an anonymous mother and her child drowned off the coast of Tunisia, one of 65 would-be migrants fleeing in an overloaded boat from strife-torn Libya. The world will never know their names, but on Mother’s Day, it seems fitting to pause for a moment to remember that a mother loved her child enough to risk everything to find him or her a better life.
Movie Mothers: On May 8th, an article in Best Life (Diana Bruk) unfolded a fascinating mystery tale, speculating about Walt Disney’s decision to have Bambi’s mother tragically killed in that award-winning 1942 animated film. How many generations of impressionable innocent children have been subsequently (and temporarily) heartbroken as a result? According to the theory, the newly-affluent Disney had earlier purchased a beautiful home for his elderly parents, in 1938. On November 23 of that year, shortly after moving in, they were both overcome by leaking, deadly furnace fumes. While Elias survived, Disney’s mother, Flora, succumbed.
Supposedly, this trauma haunted Disney and affected his subsequent film plots. Only one year before Bambi, he produced Dumbo in 1941, a sad little elephant who also lost his mother. The article then reminds us that neither Cinderella nor Snow White even had mothers.
Martyred Mother (ALMOST): On May 8th, a middle-aged Pakistani mother of five, arrived in Canada to be reconciled with her children after spending eight years on death row in a Pakistani prison. Her alleged crime? A minority Christian, Asia Bibi was accused by disgruntled Muslim neighbours of “blasphemy.” A concerned Muslim politician, the Governor of Punjab, who criticized this law, was subsequently assassinated in 2011 (NY Times, May 8, 2019). When Bibi was acquitted, widespread protests and riots broke out and she was kept in protective custody before being hidden in safe houses. This week she was admitted to find safety in Canada.
Mother of Dragons: On May 5th, and while I cannot keep track of the complex plot and abundant characters in Game of Thrones, I was saddened to learn that, of the three precious dragon eggs hatched by Daenerys, only Drogon now remains alive. In last Sunday’s episode, that winsome, but powerful, Mother of Dragons lost her second offspring, Rhaegal, in a ferocious, bloody battle. But I read today that there may be other unhatched eggs somewhere hidden. Hope must always remain, especially on Mother’s Day.
Mother Earth: On May 6th, gloomy headlines reported that a United Nations study warns that 1 million animal species are at risk, as part of a threatened sixth massive extinction. While we may not appreciate pesky mosquitoes, buzzing flies, stinging bees and noisy frogs, each plays a significant and irreplaceable role in maintaining the vitality of Mother Nature’s well-balanced ecosystem. We need to also honour this “mother” everyday by caring for her even as she looks after us.
Mother Memories: On April 26th, Anne Johnston would have celebrated her 102nd birthday with us. But she died many years earlier. In her declining days in a comfortable retirement home, she still made valiant efforts to play the mother role for her first-born son. No longer able to make me a meal or wash my shirts, she lovingly found a way to ensure that Bobby, even as an independent midlife man, was still being cared for. She would frequently rescue a banana from her dining room meal tray and carefully store it in her tiny room awaiting my next visit.
Unfortunately, Mom usually forgot about her precious gift. Eventually, it turned up, now thoroughly blackened and quite unappetizing. I still always accepted her present with gratitude, reminding myself that it was the thought that counts. Each Mother’s Day, it is such poignant memories which keep mothers forever alive in our hearts.