Jamie’s SongNotes Queen of the May

MayDay and Winifred
Queen of the May

“Take it with you,” she said. “I kept it alive for you.”

Winifred Giebel O’Reilly
Songs of Catholic Childhood, with Michael Smith

Listen to On this Day, O Beautiful Mother and Bring Flowers of the Fairest.

(hear Bring Flowers at 2:47)

Jamie sings with Michael Smith
Fairy party 2018

On MayDay in the 80s, when my daughter Meg was little, we walked around our Bucktown neighborhood and looked for bits of nature to put in a basket. Flowers and feathers, pretty stones and cast-off bud branches. There wasn’t much to find in early, urban spring, so we had to be especially watchful.

When we came together at Welles Park with my mother on Mother’s Day, we picked a cluster of Bridal Wreath bushes, spread a blanket, and watched the little girls play fairy houses under them. Bridal wreath was big for us in the ayrd of our childhood home. We used the branches in our processions to the May altar, and then we crowned the Mary statue with a columbine.

When my daughters Nia and Meg and I moved to Lincoln Square, we used to go to my Mom’s apartment on Mayday, with the first spring flowers.

A few months before she died, my Mom told me how special it was that I brought her the first snowdrops and blue scilla from my Leavitt Street garden. “Every year you brought them to me.”

She saved a tiny African violet I’d given her when I gave up my garden in 2015. (I didn’t remember. this.) “Take it with you”, she said in those final weeks, “I kept it alive for you”.

My sister Henri brought a nosegay of snowdrops from the woods the week Mom died.

O, Mom. We’ll gather the lilacs, and lily of the valley.
The clover, shooting stars, dandelions and buttercups.
For the garden of memories.
We’ll keep it alive for you..

The Songs On This Day O Beautiful Mother
and Bring Flowers of the Fairest
from Songs of a Catholic Childhood