Two mothers reflect on holiday, motherhood

BELPRE – Being with their children and grandchildren is what makes Mother’s Day special for two Mid-Ohio Valley mothers.

Mildred Chapman, 94, said her family gathered for a dinner on Mother’s Day each year.

“We always had a dinner for the whole family for Mother’s Day,” she said. “We lived on a farm so we always had good meals for Mother’s Day and other days.”

Chapman said her husband was raised on the farm where they lived.

“My mother-in-law told me he spoiled one dinner, he was born on Thanksgiving Day and spoiled the dinner,” she said.

Chapman said she thinks mothering and Mother’s Day have changed over her 94 years. Chapman has a son and daughter, now in their 60s.

She thinks some mothers may not enjoy their children as much as those of her generation.

“Mothers are for having fun with their children,” she said. “It is different. I don’t know why it’s different but it is. But we had fun.”

Chapman said with so many Mother’s Day in her past, none in particular stand out. In her family she said the dinner to honor mothers honors more than one.

“We always celebrate Mother’s Day and we’re down to the children and grandchildren,”she said. “They are all family.”

Chapman said she thinks the day has been too commercialized over the years, but she thinks the difference is made by how the family celebrates.

“Some stay together and some don’t,” she said. “It’s a change, but we’ll have dinner and all the kids will come and that will be the way it is.”

Her children and many of her grandchildren went to Belpre High School. One grandchild, Ryan McConkey, was inducted to the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame last year.

Earline Dye, 91, the mother of nine children, said there have been changes in how Mother’s Day was marked when she was younger compared to today’s celebration.

“When I was a child we always went to my grandmother’s house on Mother’s Day and then my mother’s house after my grandmother died,” she said. “Today my family is scattered across the country, from California to Pennsylvania to North Carolina and other places so it is hard to have anything for Mother’s Day.”

Dye said her 90th birthday celebration was also considered a Mother’s Day celebration.

“For my birthday my daughter had a birthday party for me at the Rockland United Methodist Church,” she said. “Two children were not there but it was a combined celebration – a kind of a get-together I guess.

“My birthday is in December so you have to take when you can get it.”

Dye’s children range from their 70s to their 50s. She said many of her children are now grandparents themselves. She has two great-great-grandchildren.

Dye, born in Fonzo, W.Va. in Ritchie County, has lived in the Wood and Washington county area since 1947, although she has moved many times, including three different addresses on the same street in Belpre. Dye said some of the moves occurred around Mother’s Day. Her husband was a home builder and they moved to new houses after he built them.

Dye said she has celebrated so many Mother’s Days that it is hard to pick out one that is a stand-out.

“So many things have happened I just can’t pick out one thing and say ‘this was it,'” she said. “It’s a multitude of giving and loving.”

West Virginia is the birth place of Mother’s Day because of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who organized observances in her hometown of Grafton, W.Va., and Philadelphia on May 10, 1908. As the annual celebration became popular around the country, Jarvis asked members of Congress to set aside a day to honor mothers. She succeeded in 1914, when Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.