In celebration of may Day, Jan Fowler of Redlands sent a may Day story from her book “Hot Chocolate for Seniors.”
The book is a compilation of more than 100 “heartwarnming, humorous, inspiring stories written by seniors, for seniors, and about seniors.”
Fowler is an award-winning columnist on senior topics has produced and hosted television segments on senior living and writes a monthly online senior dating column at seniordating.org .
“Hot Chocolate for Seniors” was published in 2011 by Balboa Press and is available online at hotchocolateforseniors.com
Following is the may Day story from “Hot Chocolate for Seniors.”
May Day Friends forever
By Patricia Westerfield
April showers bring may flowers and may first commemorates a cherished tradition that I love to recall from childhood.
Every may Day, I’d make small flower baskets out of colored construction paper, and later my mom would pick flowers for me to place inside them. Then I’d quietly sneak up to each of our neighbors’ houses, leave a basket of flowers on their front doorsteps, ring their doorbells, and quickly run and hide. eager to see and hear their surprised reactions, I’d peek out from behind the bushes without making a sound. the neighbors would always smile when they discovered the may basket, look around, and usually say, “Thank you!” I never knew if they could actually see me hiding, but I sure liked to believe that they couldn’t.
I was 21 when I got married, and the first home my husband and I lived in was a small duplex with a carport and tiny patch of grass. One day in early winter, he surprised me by digging up a small area on the side of the carport where he strung wire and planted a bed of sweet peas. by may of that year, we enjoyed a glorious wall of lovely blooms! they were so fragrant, colorful, and beautiful that we took bouquets to everyone we knew.
Soon afterwards, our first baby boy was born and we moved into a house. we lived there for 10 years and always enjoyed a profusion of sweet-scented sweet peas each spring. as soon as our children could walk, every year on the first day of may they began the tradition of surprising neighbors by leaving a basket of sweet peas on their doorsteps. we continued this custom after moving to an even larger house and rounding out our family to five children. for over 20 years, the children – even as teenagers – carried out this special tradition.
Eventually, I joined the Junior Women of the Contemporary Club, a local social-service club in which many young women participated and where lasting friendships were formed. One year, four of us happened to be pregnant at the same time, including Jan Fowler (author-editor of this book), who was also a member of Juniors. in fact, she and I delivered our babies within one day of each other. our baby boys – my son Michael and her son Randy – were not only in the same hospital nursery together, but also grew up attending the same schools and joining the same Cub Scout pack, which I led as den mother.
One week when Jan arrived to pick up Randy at my home following a Cub Scout meeting, she admired all the beautiful sweet peas that covered our swimming pool fence. She was noticeably enchanted by them because of their delicate beauty and fragrance.
May first was not far away, and that’s when Jan received her first bunch of sweet peas. Michael delivered them in a coffee can with water, not a basket, and of course rang the doorbell before he ran and hid behind her tall hedge. When Jan answered the door, she was surprised and delighted. She had a good hunch she knew who they were from.
It has now been more than 40 years since Michael’s first delivery of flowers, and Jan and I have never forgotten to surprise each other every may Day since!
Each year, she quietly sneaks up to my front porch where she leaves a coffee can overflowing with her beautiful roses, and I, in turn, tiptoe up to her front porch to deliver a coffee can of colorful, sweet-smelling sweet peas.
She and I never see each other at any time throughout the year, nor do we ever even call or send one another cards. Yet we remain may Day friends forever the fragrance of our enduring friendship lingers long after the flowers are gone.
Patricia Westerfield is a retired kindergarten teacher. She has been married to David, her college sweetheart and “the grower of sweet peas,” for 53 years. She is the mother of five, mother-in-law to five and grandmother of 15. She and Jan Fowler have known each other for more than four decades.