She was a quiet lady, but enjoyed the war songs and the tea and cake. She was of course well known, possibly not for her personality or character but her name.
Sammy came upstairs to the office for some coloured paper, and said May Day is here. I looked at her a little confused and she said oh it’s our service user. Another colleague said why would you call your daughter May Day, I said it was a nice name actually but it conjure up other things in my mind.
She was not fully sure why she was called May Day, Day being her last name, and I don’t think she was married. She was born just as the war started, surely her parents must not have named her after a war time distress call. I thought to myself at least she was not May Day all the time, just May. She must have been bullied at school I told Sammy, what do you think I asked, she didn’t think much of it and went back to the day centre.
I knew another May and maybe that was why I like it so much, me and my siblings and the whole family in fact, children and adults called our grandmother May, lovingly, she liked it but we are not fully sure who came up with this nickname.
When I would meet my cousins once in a blue moon and whom are scattered across the country, we would talk about May. They always ask me why we called her May and not nana. They just called her grandma. I thought that was boring, common and definitely not as sweet as May but they saw her a lot less than I did, so they would have a standard name for her I guess.
Growing up May Day was just another day off, playing on the streets. May always gave us 20p to buy ice cream from Mr Frosties Ice cream Van. Sometimes as everyone was off work we would go out on a day trip and our uncle would spend a pound on one ice cream, we thought the ice cream must have been extra special because it costs more. He spent a lot of money on 6 children and 5 adults.
Over the years the novelty has worn out, buying an ice cream for a ridiculous amount does not feel worth it, especially when certain family members are causing a scene shouting “it’s too expensive, we can buy a tub from morrisons”.
I do always wonder what the weather will be like on May Day, whether it’s worth a trip to Blackpool or Scarborough. Sometimes I’ve worked on this day, or just slept in.
Working is a little more fun when I went to the care home, it always reminds me of May, the warm homely feeling. The quiet afternoon with an old cowboy movie and sometimes the celebrations of spring are the focus on May Day. I have seen Morris dancers entertain residents, picnics in the care homes small garden and sometimes we even took people to the pub.
I found elderly people are no longer worried about the social and economic status of the world and what May Day may represent for some people nowadays.
They are worried about getting out of the arm chair and not falling flat on their face. They are content at times that they don’t have to worry about the fees for the care home and shopping for bread and milk.
But some elderly men in the care home would tell me stories of horrible working conditions, how they have struggled and how things are so much better. This matches my Mays stories and my grandfathers, whom we call Dajee.
May and Dajee had to work when they moved here May worked in a sewing factory and I can’t remember what my grandfather did, but he always had dirty oily hands possibly from working with machinery in a factory. It felt to me that May was more hard working, she was well known for her sewing skills and used to make all sorts, wedding dresses, jeans, bags, curtains the lot, she even bought a ridiculously heavy factory sewing machine and it lived in the family home up until recently.
My father, his brothers and sisters grew up quick enough to let them rest before they turned 60. In the end it feels we are all destined to work and work until its the next person’s duty to take the burden, for some it comes earlier than expected, for some it never ends, for some they never taste the sweetness of a hard day’s work.
I like to celebrate May Day as a day of welcoming the changes to the season, although it feels the weather changes everyday. I also like to think of all the hard working people like my May and sometimes I wish I asked May Day a bit more about the origins of her name.
May Day 2019