The first day of May has several public meanings attached to it. In Mexico, it is Labor Day, though I suspect that most Mexicans who “labor” won’t get the day off to celebrate themselves. In the world of leftist politics, it’s a major day in which many countries remember those who have struggled to get human rights for the oppressed or marginalized or forgotten. For me personally, the day floods me with a specific and happy memory. Since I grew up in Alabama, by May 1st we were in the middle of spring, well on our way to another hot summer. That meant flowers were blooming galore, so the huge garden my mother created as she was carrying me inside her was on full display.
I slept under a canopy bed that usually kept me from jumping on it when very small or, later, from playing “conductor” of whatever classical record I might be playing on my 45 rpm box player. If I dared be that active, one of the little pine cone posts that held the canopy in place was dislodged and the whole anachronistic contraption fell onto my head. But on May Day, when I waked up, what I saw hanging from the curved frame was a big basket full of blooms from my mother’s garden–snap dragons for sure, tiny yellow daisies, usually a single pink rose bud, two or three baby zinnias, and if I was lucky, a single bloom from my favorite flower–a spider lily. She would have gone out in her night gown and light-weight robe, very early, and picked these. Then she would have found just the right sized wicker basket into which she put the glass jar holding all the beauties. I felt special.
When I waked half an hour before the alarm was to go off, I registered that it was May 1st, so I lay quietly in my bed and thought of Mamie’s yearly gift all those years ago. Somehow that clean positive memory of being loved by my mother is a special gift as we all work to stay connected with those we love while the corona virus works its will on the world.