May is a major month for me. On May 1, my husband always recited his favorite poem which begins “Hooray, hooray, the first of May . . . . . “ His next words were not printable, but fortunately each person can create their own rhyming last line. My version goes like this:
“Hooray, hooray, The First of May,
Summer is here, and folks will play.”
May 5th (Cinco de Mayo) marks the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over France in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. The Mexican win was unlikely as they were vastly outnumbered by the French. It is believed that since our Union army didn’t have to interrupt the U.S. Civil War to help Mexico, they were able to win against the Confederates, thus freeing the slaves. Since I remember a few Spanish words from my three years (1960–1963) living near Madrid, it gives me extra pleasure to talk about this Holiday if only to pronounce the words in my “second language.”
My sixty-six year old son, Eric, and I like to keep things uncomplicated, so it is agreed he won’t do anything for me on Mother’s Day if I won’t do anything for him on his birthday. The two special days always fall less than a week apart. That system has worked for us for several years and keeps us both happy to be free of choosing a gift for the other.
May 6th is the birthday of my favorite, and only, son-in-law, John Hancock. John’s birthday always reminds me of my second son, Casey, who was born the same year near the same date. Sadly, Casey died of HIV related illness, contracted through a blood transfusion, before he and John had a chance to meet. John and Clea married aboard a boat in Baltimore Harbor two months after Casey died.
My daughter’s greeting cards are always funny and fitting, and this year’s Mother’s Day card did not disappoint. I have told her about my bi-weekly baths given by a caregiver who, with a warm wash cloth and special ointments and lotions, makes me feel pampered and massaged as if in a spa. Clea’s card depicts a relaxed cat swaddled in bubbles and towels and with a cucumber slice resting on each closed eyelid.
Another caregiver brought me a single long stemmed red rose for Mother’s Day, saying “I wish you were my mother.” I enjoyed the rose and feel very flattered by her comment.
In mid-May, the holy month of Ramadan ends and if we are Muslim we can go back to eating during daytime and having sex. The day of celebration is marked on the calendar as Eid al Fitr. (Translation: Celebration of breaking of the fast.)
Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor my brother, my son, and my husband who were veterans of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in that order. My other son, still living, graduated from the Air Force Academy and flew C-141’s, so we are a military family.
In 1944, when I was fifteen, my brother, Dale, was killed by German artillery in the historic Battle of the Bulge. His grave is in Ft. Donelson National Cemetery in Dover, Tennessee where I, and all my siblings, attended high school.
In 1993, when Casey was thirty-six, he died in a Seattle hospital. His ashes were scattered at sea by his brother and sister off the coast of Washington near Seattle. After leaving the Navy he was headquartered there near the University between his frequent voyages to foreign ports.
My husband, affectionately known by his troops as “Colonel Mac,” died in December 2006 at age eighty-four. His grave is in Arlington National Cemetery and my name will be on the backside of his gravestone. My ashes will be scattered near my old home place in Tennessee.
The stork arrived a few days early and I became an honorary great grandmother on May 22, courtesy of “my other daughter,” Julie, and her daughter, Carly. New baby, Eva Julianne, did not wait for the full, super-blood moon and a coinciding lunar eclipse on May 26, as I had planned. Due to optical illusion, the moon appears larger when closer to the horizon. If I could have, being a lifelong sky watcher, I would have gone outside and watched from my power chair, but that would have required too much assistance and resulted in a big commotion. I was so sure Carly’s baby would arrive that day. So much for my beliefs about the moon. The baby did come when she was good and ready, not by any Grandma Pattie rules.
May has a bit of everything. These are just a few reasons why the month of May matters to me, especially this year, 2021.