Hot sunshine and blue skies greeted the first day of May, also known as May Day. Although this day has never been celebrated with much enthusiasm in the United States, it has survived as part of the English tradition. This holiday has roots that go back to the time of the Druids, which is the reason it was frowned upon by the Puritans. However, it is celebrated in Great Britain, and other places, where the age-old customs are still observed.
May Day is the time to celebrate the onset of May, the month that sees the earth ready to burgeon with new growth. Since the ancient days in England, there prevailed a custom of “bringing in the May” on May Day. People would go to the woods in the early dawn to pick flowers and tender branches to decorate their houses. Children would hang May baskets of flowers on the doorknobs of folks.
This day has always been associated with flowers. The showers of April have brought out the blooming flowers in abundance and the once bleak earth has come alive with color and fragrance. Reading about these charming customs was fascinating to me as a young girl. One May Day my sister and I picked small bouquets of wild flowers (violets, spring beauties, wild anemones and dandelions) to put on the neighbor’s porches. Of course there was no doorbell to ring, so we simply knocked on the door and then hid.
The Maypole dance was another colorful custom. A towering Maypole was set up on the village green, usually made of the trunk of a tall birch tree, and decorated with bright flowers. Streamers or ribbons were fastened to the top, and villagers (usually young people) danced and sang around it. A May Queen was chosen from the pretty girls of the village to reign over the May Day festivities. She was crowned on a flower-bedecked throne, and drawn in a decorated cart by young men or her maids of honor.
Another custom was washing the face with May dew. It was a belief among the women of Great Britain that May Day dew had the power to restore beauty. That is why in the Ozark Mountains, a cradle of American folklore, girls used to nurture a belief that washing one’s face in the early dawn dew on May Day would help to be married to the man of her choice.
May is a green and growing time, with tender leaves developing on the trees, and shrubs and bushes in full bloom. May apples have their umbrellas popped open in anticipation of more spring showers, and yellow morels are hiding under their shade. This has been a bumper mushroom year, with baskets of morels still being found.
Gloria Boggess has questions about the cow’s ability to supply so much milk. She wonders if a cow’s supply of milk will not adjust to a calf’s needs, just as human milk does. In most cases, this happens. However, this Jersey cow has so much milk that a little calf cannot begin to nurse at all. Criss solved the problem by purchasing another baby calf that was being raised on a bottle. Once the calves get adjusted, they can be turned out with the cow which should take care of most of the milk. Then we will be free to go camping.
For Mother’s Day
I dreamed I saw Mother in Heaven
In garments so pure and bright
As she wandered through gates of that city
Where never come shades of the night
The face I had loved so in childhood
Is dearer than life now to me,
I pray to the Lord I shall meet her
And there with her ever to be.
But she left me the keys to the kingdom,
It’s the dear old Bible that she loved so well,
Though it’s worn and faded now yet to me it’s a treasure
How precious in words I never could tell.
As I turn through
the pages there are scriptures
That she marked with her pencil so plain for me to see,
And the tears that have stained it from cover to cover,
Are as precious as gold rocks to me.
She was patient, so kind and so tender,
God alone knew how great was her love.
And she trusted the blessed old Bible,
Always singing of Heaven above.
I will never, no I’ll never, forget her,
What a wonderful mother was she,
She’s the mother that rocked my cradle,
And the dearest of all to me.
This song was sent to me by Guy and Rita McKown of Left Hand, and echoes the thoughts of all of us who have lost our mothers.
Gynith Thomas of Charleston sent a song; the fourth verse goes like this:
“We often think of dear Mother,
While here on earth we roam,
But we know that she is with Jesus,
In yonder’s heavenly home.
She is free from toil and trouble,
From sickness and from pain,
But one blessed consolation,
That we will meet again.
I would also like to dedicate this to Connie Rogers West of Wallback, who just lost her Mother. We who have traveled this path know the grief and heartsickness that comes with this loss. No matter how old or how sick a person’s mother is, there is a void that can never be filled when they are gone.
There is not a day goes by that I don’t think of Mom. I remember her now, not in the cruel grip of Alzheimer’s disease, but the way she used to be. She was always here for us, the rock that supported the family, and she in turn was supported by “The Rock.” She was a voracious reader, and seemed to know a little bit about everything. The theme song in our family was “go ask Mom.”
It always seemed that Mom could fix anything, from altering a dress to soothing a broken heart. When troubles came, if I could go tell Mom, I would feel better. Yet there were some things even she couldn’t fix.
When our first grandchild died at two days (Patty’s little Jennifer Alyce) I couldn’t wait to get to Mom and tell her. All the way up Elk River from Charleston I was anxious to get to Mom. All she could do was hold me and weep too. There are things now that I’d like to tell her. I find myself picking up the phone and then I realize she is no longer here.
We are prone to take our mothers for granted when we are young.
They have nursed us, rocked us, fed us and comforted us until we come to the place that we feel Mom is just there for our convenience. It takes some time for us to realize that she is a person in her own right, with feelings, needs and emotions of her own.
One of the most satisfying things in life is when your children grow up and we can converse with them on an adult level. Our offspring are no longer just our children, but warm friends as well. Then when the grandchildren come long, and after that the great-grandchildren, our lives are full. I can’t imagine a life, especially when you are older, without family for love and support.
I think that motherhood is the most rewarding occupation that God ever created. Although the world seems to have gotten off track, the Bible has a plan for the home that brings ultimate happiness and contentment. With the father in his place as head of the home, the mother as Keeper of the Hearth, and God as head over all, the family is blessed.
Of course there are rough places along the way, with heartaches and pain. We do not live in a perfect world. I have found that the good times outweigh the bad times, and with each tribulation, God sends comfort. As we look back, we can say with the songwriter, “What a Journey it’s Been!”
It has gone by so fast. I remember looking at the granddaughters holding their infants in church, and marveling that it was just yesterday that I was holding my own babies. Now the grandchildren have families and it still seems such a short time that my own were young. It is hard to account for the years that have gone by.
Mothers have my deepest admiration. It takes a mother to love little boys who come in all grubby from play, with fishing worms in their pockets and a faint wild animal scent about them. And who could love a stringy adolescent with five white whiskers on his chin and a nervous Adam’s apple bobbing up and down? A mother can—and a grandmother can also.
A mother has the most important job in the world—that of molding lives into responsible, caring, God-fearing men and women. The only hope for our next generation is to bring up our children in the ways of the Lord. Much has been written to warn our children of the dangers of drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse and other pertinent issues.
However, it all goes back to the home. It takes the instilling of godly principles and a deep moral code in our children to turn our world around. The Ten Commandments will never be outmoded.
If you still have your mother—love her, help her, be good to her and hold her close to your heart. You will never realize how much you have lost until she is gone.
The Lord has given us these lovely May days, and it is almost a sin not to enjoy them. We need to absorb their beauty, bask in their serenity, and thank the Maker of these days for His goodness to us.
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