May’s contradictions

The month of May is one tinged with melancholy for members of my family.

On May 4, 2002 my father dropped dead in his garden which, for him, could not have been a more suitable place. Yet he was only seventy-five, a birthday celebration only a few weeks earlier for which the entire family had gathered in Perth, coming so soon after a non-debilitating stroke. He and Mom would have been fifty years married the next July. Instead we buried his remains on May 8.

My older brother Craig died on May 9, 2007 after a fall on April 24 of that year which resulted in critical brain trauma. He never regained consciousness nor the ability to breathe on his own. The accident occurred on the birthday of his partner, Claude. A memorial service was held at St. James United Church in Montreal on May 14, the day after his birthday (and Mother’s Day!), followed by a burial service at Scotch Line Cemetery in Perth the following evening.

So May 4, May 8, May 9, May 13, May 14 and May 15…and my mother has an unfortunate knack for being able to remember dates. What was Craig’s birthday on Mother’s Day the year that he died, is now Mother’s Day and Dad’s burial day in 2011. Twill be ever thus or a combination thereof.

And yet…and yet, May comforts us with its warmer air, its greener grass, its blossoms and blooms and beautiful fragrances. Even on the first of the month there was healthy foliage, if not blooms, where Claude had planted tulip bulbs at both Craig’s and Dad’s graves.

All things considered, I’ll take May over November, for example, to mark these grim milestones!


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