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8 of History’s Greatest Tributes to Mothers

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A card and a bouquet of flowers simply weren’t enough for some of history’s biggest names. To show their love for mom, they dedicated songs, memorials, and even entire cities to the ones who brought them into the world. Here are a few notable examples.

1. MONUMENT TO PESESHET

When archaeologists uncovered the tomb of Akhet-Hetep, a high priest who lived in Giza during Egypt’s fifth dynasty (around 2500 BCE), they discovered, along with the usual funerary arrangements, a memorial to his mother, Peseshet, who was probably one of the world’s first known female physicians. Ancient Egyptians were notable for their gender egalitarianism, meaning Peseshet would have been far from the only female doctor during the time period. But her title as “Overseer of Women Physicians” indicates she was highly skilled and respected by many, including her son.

2. BRAHMS'S “GERMAN REQUIEM”

Following the death of a friend in 1856, the renowned composer began to conceptualize a large, sweeping requiem in German. But it wasn’t until the death of his mother, Johanna, in 1865 that he began working on the piece in earnest. Composed of seven movements and incorporating chorus, orchestra, and baritone and soprano soloists, “Requiem” has been called a consolation piece about death and grieving that also manages to be light, and even joyous. It’s one of Brahms’s defining works, and a fine tribute to his mother.

3. HELENOPOLIS

She started out as a stabularia (which probably means barmaid, since inns and taverns were often found next to stables), and ended up First Lady of the Roman Empire. Helena and her son Constantine had a close relationship, and after he became emperor he showered her with land, title, and wealth. He also named a couple cities after her, including her birthplace, Drepanum, a town in Asia Minor which he renamed Helenopolis. A devout follower of Christianity, Helena would make a pilgrimage to the holy land, where she claimed to find pieces of the true cross. After her death, the Catholic Church made her a saint.

4. WHISTLER’S MOTHER

Born in America, James Abbott McNeill Whistler spent much of his career in Europe, where he enjoyed the fast life of an artist bon vivant. But when his stern, very pious mother Anna came to live with him in London, he reverted to the role of dutiful son (he kicked his girlfriend out of his flat, for starters). His controlled, respectful portrait of Anna, officially titled Arrangement in Gray and Black, No. 1, was a formal exercise that became a symbol of maternal devotion and steadfastness known the world over. Debuting to mixed reviews, it would be bought for the Musée de Luxembourg before transferring to the Louvre; 30 years ago, it moved to the Musée d’Orsay, where it appears today.

5. MOTHER’S DAY

In 1908, West Virginian Anna Jarvis organized a celebration at her local church in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis, who had served as a nurse during the Civil War. Jarvis lobbied for Mother’s Day to be recognized as a national holiday, and maintained that it should be “a day of sentiment, not profit” where children would spend time with their mothers. The holiday became official, but Jarvis became so disgusted by the commercial nature of Mother’s Day that she tried to abolish it.

6. “LET IT BE”

During a particularly stressful period in 1968 when The Beatles were on the verge of dissolving, Paul McCartney had a dream. In it, his mother, Mary, who died when he was just 14, came to him and told him that everything would be alright. “Let it be,” she said. The next day, McCartney sat down at the piano, and ended up with one of the band’s biggest (and last) hits. Many see religious meaning in the song, and believe “Mother Mary” refers to the Virgin Mary. McCartney, for his part, welcomes all interpretations, but has maintained his story and his devotion to his mother. When a fan on his website asked what he’d do if he had a time machine, McCartney wrote: “Go back and spend time with my mum.”

7. HALL OF JOYFUL LONGEVITY

The Emperor Qianlong of China considered his mother, the Empress Dowager Chongqing, to be a trusted friend and advisor. So on her 60th birthday in 1753, he commissioned several additions to the Summer Palace outside Beijing, including the building of a new lake and the construction of the Hall of Joyful Longevity, which would serve for years as the residence for any royalty visiting the picturesque collection of temples, gardens, and lakes. The emperor also threw a blowout birthday party for the empress, complete with poetry readings, animal sacrifices, and banners decorating the road from Beijing to the Summer Palace.

8. BIAMBA MARIE MUTOMBO HOSPITAL

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Former NBA big man Dikembe Mutombo was stingy around the basket as one of the league’s most formidable shot blockers. But off the court, he generously gave to his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. In 2007, he opened a $29 million state-of-the art hospital named for his mother, Biamba Marie Mutombo, just outside the capital Kinshasa, in an area riddled with poverty. A local physician called it a “jewel” for residents, including the nearly half a million children under 5 who died each year of preventable causes. Honoring his mother at the hospital’s opening, Mutombo said, “She always wanted us to do the best we could to serve others.”

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Scatterbrained
14 Favorite TV Moms
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YouTube

Television moms. Everyone has a favorite. Whether it’s Carol Brady and her groovy pant suits or Wilma Flintstone (whose maiden name was Slaghoople). But how much do you really know about these small-screen maternal figures?

In the latest episode of Scatterbrained, John Green and his co-hosts are dishing some amazing facts about television’s most beloved moms (that segment begins at the 2:25 mark), just in time for Mother’s Day. They’re also delving into the history of the holiday itself, offering some tips on how to pick out the perfect bouquet for your mama and exploring the unique (and sometimes odd) habits of moms in the animal kingdom. You can check out the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!

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19 Mother's Day Gifts to Show Mom You Love Her
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From mouth-watering gourmet chocolate to gear for outdoor adventures, these Mother's Day gifts are perfect for all Mom's interests.

1. HERB GARDEN CANDLE; $25

Herb Garden Candle
Apollo Box

When this herb-scented candle is finished burning, the container can serve as a rustic planter for a mini herb garden. Included is a plantable paper disc containing oregano, basil, and parsley seeds. All you need is dirt.

Find It: Apollo Box

2. FOODIE DICE; $24

Foodie Dice

These dice are perfect for days when mom needs a little inspiration for dinner. The nine dice are engraved with options for protein, grains/carbs, vegetables, and more. With 186,000 possible combinations, it should take care of planning family meals for a while.

Find It: UncommonGoods

3. NEAPOLITAN ICE CREAM CONES; $45

ice cream cone cups

These whimsical Neapolitan-colored ice cream cone dishes are perfect for enjoying high-end gelato or a little Ben & Jerry's.

Find It: Fishs Eddy

4. CHOCOLATE TOTE BOX; $29

MarieBelle Chocolate Ganache Tote Box

MarieBelle New York specializes in ganaches decorated with edible artwork. This eight-piece set of handmade chocolates is packaged in a tote bag-shaped gift box.

Find It: MarieBelle

5. HEXAGON GLASS CATCH-ALL DISH; $12

Hexagon Glass Catch-All Dish

Double up: This glass hexagon dish will upgrade any bedside table, while also storing jewelry, car keys, or change.

Find It: Urban Outfitters

6. MOM'S GOT THIS FEMINIST MUG; $18

mom's got this mug

Show her how much you appreciate her Rosie outlook with this ceramic mug inspired by the iconic cultural icon. The cup is available in standard 11-ounce size, a tall 12-ounce container, or a 15-ounce travel mug.

Find It: RedBubble

7. LOLLIA RELAX GIFT SET; $69

bath set

Help Mom get into a Zen state of mind with this bath gift set from Lollia, which includes lavender and honey-scented bar soap, hand cream, and a candle with a crystal charm.

Find It: Margot Elena

8. RECCHIUTI CONFECTIONS CHOCOLATE; $48

Recchiuti Confections chocolates

She'll love the sweets in this box from top luxury chocolatier Recchiuti, where every piece is made by hand. Featured ingredients for this box of beautifully-designed truffles include hazelnuts from Italy, peppermint from Willamette Valley, and coffee from Hawaii.

Find It: Recchiuti Confections

9. COFFEE SOAP; $7

Coffee soap
Courtesy of RockyTopSoapShop

For the mom who can never get enough coffee: This fragrant handmade vegan soap is made from a strong pot of organic java. Plus, the coffee grounds act as natural exfoliants.

Find It: Etsy

10. MONET GARDEN AT ARGENTEUIL SCARF; $65

Monet scarf
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store

Mom will feel very distinguished in this luxurious Monet silk scarf from the gift shop of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's printed with Claude Monet's Camille Monet in the Garden at Argenteuil.

Find It: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store

11. WOOD AND SLATE WINE TASTER'S BOARD; $25

Wood and Slate Wine Taster's Board
UncommonGoods

Tasting boards aren't only for beer. This tray—made from acacia wood and slate—can hold up to four glasses. Soapstone chalk included.

Find It: UncommonGoods

12. STEMLESS AERATING WINE GLASSES; $56

Stemless Aerating Wine Glass
Amazon

When mom pours her wine into the interior chamber of this glass, she can watch it become perfectly aerated. This set of two is made of dishwasher-safe pyrex glass.

Find It: Amazon

13. WINE CHILLER SET; $40

wine chillers
Apollo Box

Regular ice cubes can water down a glass of wine, but these wine twirls (made of food-safe resin) act as a brilliant substitute: Pop them in the freezer and then into your glass and you'll have chilled wine that won't get diluted. This set comes with two twirls and two stemless wine glasses.

Find It: Apollo Box

14. LOOFAH SOAP; $12

loofah soap
Amazon

Give Mom the spa-treatment with this toxin-free loofah dipped in fragrant soap. The loofah is sourced from a gourd plant, so it's eco-friendly, while the soap features moisturizing coconut oil.

Find It: Amazon

15. BRUNCH GIFT BASKET; $70

brunch gift basket

Want to make your mom breakfast in bed on Mother's Day, but can't cook? This complete brunch gift basket from Harry & David has everything: triple cheese and caramelized onion quiche, Canadian bacon, English muffins, maple syrup butter, and lemon poppyseed Bundt cake.

Find It: Harry & David

16. FORSAKE ALMA; $150

Forsake boots
Forsake

Buying for a shoe-loving mom who’s both sporty and chic? Look no further than Forsake’s Alma wedge bootie. Made of waterproof leather and sporting “peak-to-pavement” traction, these shoes are comfortable right out of the box—we walked 5 miles in the pair Forsake sent us to test and our feet didn’t hurt a bit.

Find It: Forsake

17. MYSTERY RANCH SUPER BOOTY BAG; $99

Mystery Ranch bag
Mystery Ranch

This 28-liter nylon bag—which can be used as either a backpack or a tote—is perfect for the mom needs to lug clothes and shoes to the gym, bring groceries back from the store, or take a weekend trip. (Mystery Ranch gave us a bag to test, and we used it for all three.) In addition to its roomy main compartment, there’s a front compartment, a zippered exterior pocket, and exterior access to a compartment that will fit a 15-inch laptop.

Find It: Mystery Ranch

18. RED ANTS PANTS; $139

Red Ants Pants
Red Ants Pants

These work pants are tailor-made for ladies to wear while they're outdoors getting stuff done like a boss, from gardening to chopping wood. Made of cotton canvas duck cloth, they have reinforcements in the front legs and seat, a high-cut back for maximum coverage, and three pockets designed for a pencil, notebook, and knife.

Find It: Red Ants Pants

19. THE SILL’S MOTHER’S DAY BUNDLES; $65-$68

The Sill plant set
The Sill

Moms with green thumbs will love The Sill’s Mother’s Day bundles. Get a bird’s nest fern and a “plant mom” tote for $65; a trio of tiny succulents for $67.50; three air plants and a “plant mom” pin for $66; or a hedgehog aloe and tote for $66. All plants come in The Sill’s pots (except for the airplants; those come on little metal stands).

Find It: The Sill

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