May Day Surprise

“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other, gold.” —Girl Scouts

We are often reminded of the importance of keeping social as we age; isolation has proven to be hazardous to healthy aging, while friendships engage and stimulate us. I am fortunate to have longtime friends as well as newer ones. I have two friends from grade school who have been dear to me for 50 years. Every summer we meet for lunch to catch up and to recharge those life-shaping memories.

My own childhood memory was awakened this spring when I put the dog out and found on the porch a pretty dahlia plant with a card that read, “Happy May Day.” I was transported to another time, when May Day was celebrated. I remember leaving an anonymous basket of flowers from the garden on a neighbor’s porch. And I recall making a little paper cone for a tiny bouquet—maybe even dandelions—and hanging it on a door knob for Mom to find.

My mother always celebrated May 1 with a trip to church and a cleaning spree. My aunt also had the notion that you thoroughly clean your house on the first of May or risk “making the Blessed Mother cry.” This May Day dahlia also reminded me of the maypole dances of my youth and of crowning a Queen of the May. I recalled, so clearly, my longing to be the one wearing the ring of flowers on my head.

I did not see the stealth drop-off of the dahlia, but I knew who left it. It was not a childhood friend as you might think, but clearly one with a similar upbringing (and a very kind heart). Friendships old or new have the power to stimulate our brains, whether we’re making new memories or sharing cherished history.