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Grazing: Symbolism and nostalgia on Mother's Day

Remembrances of a Southern mother

Mother's Day is coming up and no other holiday so thoroughly captures the primary emotional state of the nation these days. I'm talking about nostalgia – that sentimental longing for the idealized past. In a ruined economy, we grow especially nostalgic for the comfort – actual or not – symbolized by a mother.

But the dearth of sentimentality about the mother, like most nostalgia, feels surreally one-dimensional to me. It at once places the mother on a pedestal and trivializes her actual reality. At least this seems true to me of many Southern mothers.

My mother, who died a few years ago, was born in Silver, S.C., a crossroads south of Sumter in the middle of nowhere. Her father was German and her mother was very Southern. They moved to a big house in downtown Charlotte after the Depression ruined my grandfather's prosperous business as a cotton broker. He opened a furniture store where my mother, the youngest of a gaggle of daughters, kept him company.

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