But what brings Mother's Day to mind is something I wrote last year just before Mother's Day - it was a piece about a very special kind of mother - the ones we call grandmothers. In many traditions around the world - including my own Métis/Aboriginal tradition in Canada - grandmothers are especially honored and respected.
Many a woman or man has grown up to be strong, resourceful, and respected because when their own parents were not able to provide a good upbringing, the grandparents were there to do so. And that's what I was writing about just before Mother's Day 2010. I found that post just now, and for no other reason than the fact it still touches my heart, I'm making it my first official Mother's Day post of the new year!
May your heart also be touched as you read it:
As an Aboriginal man, I am deeply moved by the Canadian grandmothers who, in the best sense of Thomas Friedman's notion of flattening, have extended their reach around the world to embrace African children suffering with HIV-AIDS.
I'm moved because, so often in our communities when families have broken down and children are at risk, it is the grandmothers who look after the kids. And not just their biological grandchildren, but also nieces and nephews, the children of friends, sometimes any child who needs nurturing in a good way.
Last year I first head about a group of Canadian grandmothers of various backgrounds whose hearts resonated to news that in Africa, where many parents of small children are deathly ill or have died from HIV-AIDS, it is the grandmothers on whom the responsibility and honor of raising these young ones has fallen.
Tomorrow is Mother's Day, and this morning I found a compelling story by Associated Press writer Phathize-Chief Zulu about a gathering of grandmothers in the southern Africa country of Swaziland. The gist of challenges confronting Swaziland is captured in these shocking words:
"The U.N. children's organization puts the number of orphans in this country of about 1 million at 100,000, largely due to AIDS and the virus that causes it. The U.N. says HIV prevalence in impoverished Swaziland is nearly 40 percent, the highest in the world."
Eunice Vilakati, a 67 year old Swazi woman, cares for her two granddaughters, orphaned last year, and for an ever-changing number of neighbor's kids who have been impacted by HIV-AIDS.
"When you arrive at my place you can be mistaken that all these children are my children," she told the AP. "But they are my neighbours' orphans. Where there are no grannies, they find comfort here."
Children with AIDS have died in her arms.
Aylwen Dlamini, member of a Swazi grandmother's group, explains it's the "grandmothers who are forced to provide home-based care for the sick," and that they also provide support for their neighbors.
Elizabeth Rennie belongs to the Canada's Ubuntu Grand Women. At the opening ceremony of the grandmothers' gathering she spoke in solidarity: "Canadian grandmothers are the voice of African women in Canada. We're here to learn from our African peers by listening, caring and learning, and won't rest until the African story is told."
The Guardian reports: "The African grandmothers will be joined by a delegation of 42 Canadian grandmothers from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which supports community-based organisations fighting HIV/Aids in Africa....
"Stephen Lewis, chair of the foundation, said: 'Grandmothers are the unsung heroes of Africa. These magnificently courageous women bury their own children and then look after their orphaned grandchildren, calling on astonishing reserves of love and emotional resilience.'"
On Mother's Day remember the grandmothers of the world - women of experience and of wisdom, who join hands in a sacred circle going around the world, who realize the most sacred of all trusts we have in this life is the one to raise our children in a good way.