Tag Archives: Waldorf Education

May Day!

I have a love-hate relationship with ritual. I usually love the first couple of times through something, but then I end up hating too much repetition. How many times will I sing “Merry Month of May” in my life? I’ve already lost track, and we have six more years! The May Day festival at my son’s school has morphed over time. It’s better now–the 5th-8th graders perform Morris dances so that it’s not an endless k-8 stream of dancing around and around. It’s colorful, and there’s always festive music. Add a Welsh native in a kilt bedecked in flowers and ribbons as the emcee, it’s a pretty fun time.

This year, I approached the day, actually celebrated on Friday since school was in session and May Day landed on a Sunday,with some amount of trepidation. As I noted in this blog post a year ago the date had been tinged with melancholy for me the last few years. I went to the festival this year more annoyed that it was still 44 degrees and overcast. I carried my umbrella with me sure that we were going to be standing in a muddy field. To my surprise, the weather held and the slight misting that did appear was a far cry from the thunderous downpour I was expecting.

My anger at my mom’s death has dulled, and I’ve found the last year has taken me along way to being more nostalgic and allowing me to share with my kids little things about my mom so she can live on in their memories as well as my own.

As I was getting ready for my annual dessert and charade party that I host for the school as a fundraiser, I found myself rummaging around in the liquor cabinet. No, it’s not so stressful it sends me careening off the wagon. I was making a cookie that requires a quarter cup or so of whiskey. I found this bottle (pictured to the right) in the back of the shelf. I know it’s a little bit of a disconnect for someone with 23 years of sobriety under her belt to be holding a nearly empty bottle of booze, but I’m safely past any kind of temptation to go on a binge.

My mom bought this bottle during her last trip her in 2006. She didn’t quite finish it, and I couldn’t just dump out perfectly good bourbon. I let it get shoved back behind the cognac and calvados until I went searching. It was finding this bottle of whiskey that sent me into a moment of thinking about my mom and the fact that we were coming up on the anniversary of her surgery. I used what I needed for the cookies and put the bottle back in the cupboard. Given the rate I use up booze around here, that little connection with her will be sitting around for another year at least.

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Filed under Cooking, Grief, Holidays, May Day, Mourning, Moving On, Uncategorized

I, Luddite

Gold Ink On Black Paper

Ink on Paper

The next morning, after I’d given my daughter the drafting set to use for her geometry homework, my son came down and saw the interesting leather box on the table. Opening it, he looked at all the pretties and asked what they were for.

I took out the compass with a pencil lead and showed him how it works, I pulled out the pen, and I explained how the ink would sort of just hang there between the metal. He didn’t seem to think this was very interesting and said, “It looks just like any other pen then.” My feathers ruffled a bit at the idea that this was any ordinary pen! I’d sweated over using the damn thing for hours.

I decided a demonstration was in order. I ran to the art room and grabbed a bottle of gold ink and some black paper so I could show him how it works. (I suppose the fact that I have such materials says something about me to begin with.) I dipped the pen into the ink and drew a series of lines to show how the thickness could be changed from a very thin line to a very thick line. I realized as I was doing it that he could do the very thing without the mess in a matter of seconds on the computer. And, he would know exactly how many millimeters thick the line would be.

“Back in the olden days,” I said, “we didn’t have computers that would draw lines or circles for us. This is how it was done.” I played with the pen a bit more as he wandered off to do something more interesting before school. Then he asked about the cursive writing, which seems to have piqued his interest at least.

When I said something about how happy I was his school still teaches cursive writing and that they don’t do it in our local public schools, my husband was a bit shocked. Call me old-fashioned or call me a Luddite, I don’t really care. I think it’s an important skill that kids need to learn. I like that they learn how to make a bow, write with a pencil and a fountain pen, draw circles with a free hand and throw a javelin. Sure, they’ll catch up with technology when they need to, but there’s something to be said for learning the basics for a strong foundation. And yes…I want them to build a fire from sticks and leaves, too. Anyone can use a match.

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Filed under Parenting

Marking Time

I remember when Bill and I figured out our wedding date and called relatives to let them know.  My Aunt M. was angry because we chose to have it on June 24th.  She said, “Oh, you can’t have it on that day!  That’s the day daddy died.”

I was sort of surprised that she would have that response.  Seriously, she had no idea how much work it had taken for us to find the date that would work for us–after gradation for both of us, before Bill took his new job, before our other close friends’ wedding…I just said, “Well, maybe we can make it a happy day to celebrate instead.”  My parents were right in predicting that she wouldn’t come to the wedding anyway so it wasn’t that big a deal.  This is the same aunt who…well, let’s just say her fictionalized version in the novel I’m writing won’t need much fictionalizing as she presents herself as a perfect “character” as is.

The odd thing about me is I don’t remember the actual date my dad died.  It was in February 1999, but I’d have to look it up to be sure of the actual day.  With my mom, on the other hand, I have much stronger associations and the dates are more firmly etched in my memory.  You see, she went into surgery on May 1, 2007 to have the valves in her heart replaced.   I did what most Waldorf parents do on May-day and went to the May Pole dance at school.  The whole time, I kept my hand on my telephone waiting for my brother Steve, who had come from Georgia to stay with her before and after the operation, to call me.  I expected good results, so I wasn’t particularly worried though I was a little anxious.

I went home before the traditional picnic.  A part of me just didn’t want to be in public when he finally called.  It wasn’t that I knew something would go wrong, but even when I am relieved after a stressful situation I tend to look like a basket case.  The only thing that makes things worse for me when I’m injured is to have people ask me if I am okay.  When in pain, I’m rendered utterly mute to the complete and utter frustration of my husband in particular.

Anyway, I went home and waited until my brother called.  The news was bad.  The surgery was initially quite successful.  However, my mom had a very rare allergic reaction to the Protamine used to re-coagulate the blood post surgery.  She went into shock and slipped into a coma.   In many respects she died on May 1.  Technically and legally, she died on May 4th when my brothers and I had gathered around her in the hospital and ordered the life support to be terminated.  It was an emotionally wrenching decision in spite of the fact the brain scans showed absolutely no life and no chance of recovery.

The first couple of years after her death,  I ended up in tears as the children dance around the maypole.  The memory of standing in the same field with the brightly colored ribbons moving to springy music had connected me viscerally to her death.  This year, I went to school determined to put the joy back into May Day.  We celebrated it on April 30th since May 1st fell on Saturday this year.  I managed to get through the entire day full of smiles as I focused on it being May Day–a day of  Spring and hope–not to mention a few giggles at the lyrics about ploughboys and maidens.

On this, the legal third anniversary of her death, I’d like to invite those of you who knew her, loved her and remember her to leave a comment here. (Or on Facebook since some of you, ahem, Bill,  don’t want to sign up for WordPress proper.)    It is in our memories that she lives on for the world and makes the day worthy of remembrance.  I miss you, Mom!

In memory of my mom–July 22, 1932–May 4, 2007

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Filed under Grief, May Day, Mourning, Moving On