Mother’s Day history isn’t the stuff of holiday card prose
New book by West Virginia native details the tragic struggle wages to create the national celebration of motherhood
West Virginia Press Association
ELKINS — Along with sentimental Mother’s Day cards, West Virginia residents might want to purchase a copy of “Mother’s Day: The Legacy of Anna Jarvis,” the new book by Elkins resident L. Wayne Sheets that details the struggles behind the creation of the national holiday.
The tragedy and struggles of the Jarvis family are documented in Sheets’ work. The author traces the holiday from its roots in the works of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis and her “Mothers Works Clubs” that provided medical care in the region around Philippi, W.Va., for wounded soldiers from both the North and the South during the Civil War.
The author touches on the irony that the namesake of Mother’s Day lost all but four or her 14 children to illness, disease and the postnatal infections that were rampant at the time.
Today, Mother’s Day is the most celebrated non-religious holiday in the world. A national holiday in the United States — with its centennial celebration in 2014 —and generates more than $67 million in card sales and millions more in spending on dinners, gifts and travel. It’s another irony that Anna Jarvis fought the commercialization of the holiday, wanting it to be only about spending time with family.
The book documents the Jarvis family’s struggles through the regional hostilities that continued in the newly formed West Virginia after the Civil War. Later, Anna Jarvis fought against personal challenges and waged a decades-long campaign against government resistance, public apathy, lack of funds and claims by others that Ann Jarvis’ ‘Mothers’ Friendship Day’ was not the true and original inspiration of the modern Mother’s Day celebration.
With the centennial celebrate scheduled for May, Sheets’ book — a study of the West Virginia women who were responsible for the creation of the Mother’s Day holiday — is something of a story itself.
However, the author’s own story and reason for the book will draw many readers. For Sheets, it’s also a personal tribute to his mother, who died of postnatal infections at the age of 20, just 13 days after giving birth to the author at their home in Pocahontas County, W.Va.
The 216-page paperback — ISBN 0-87012-838-8 and published by McClain Printing in Parsons, W.Va. — is available through store.mcclainprinting.com and amazon.com. Autographed copies are also available from the author. Sheets can be contacted at 304-636-6723, or at L.Wayne.Sheets@gmail.com.
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