Toward the end of the first half of the 20th century, in the deeply religious, African-American community, our nation’s capital, into which I was born and began my cultural formation, and in the industrial mid-Atlantic and rural South before my immersion in USVI culture over the last third of the 20th century to the current day, Mother’s Day seemed to be the second most highly observed celebration of the Church Year. Only Easter, the Sunday of the Resurrection, topped Mother’s Day in attendance, in rich personal tradition, and in enthusiasm.

I remember the new Mother’s Day outfits for church, the carnations (red for the living, white for the deceased, or pink or other colors for all), and the trips to wherever the matriarch among the living mothers of one’s family dwelled. I also remember in church seeing the broad smiles and laughs of unremitting love and the tears (yes, and sometimes wails) of joy, of gratitude, of mourning, of grief — and perhaps of some guilt of the neglectful or naughty.