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May is my favorite month

By Steve Stricker

Happy Mother’s Day!

Although we appreciate and praise our mom’s every day, Mother’s Day is set aside to officially celebrate and thank our wonderful mom’s and mum’s for all they do for us.

May is my favorite month. Temperatures are just right and trees and shrubs are flowering and leafing as we emerge from our cocoons of winter into this wonderful southern life in Oxford. The last day of classes for Ole Miss Students was Friday; finals were this past week (yikes); and graduation for our Ole Miss seniors and graduate students was yesterday. Well done and congratulations, all!

Since the 18th century, Roman Catholics have observed May and May Day with various devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord, and Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. May 1 is also the feast day of St Joseph the Worker, carpenter, husband to Mary, and surrogate father of Jesus.

Going through my divorce many years ago, my hero mom “Gert” didn’t understand and pulled away from me for a short time. Well, I didn’t understand either and needing a mother, turned to my heavenly mom, the Blessed Virgin who has become an integral part of my life, and through intercessions to her son, has granted me countless blessings.

I have been without my mom since 2008 and in some ways I remain in mourning, not just because I miss her, but because I still need her. Last Sunday night, I was talking with my son Shane about the care packages Gert would send me along with regular hand-written letters, each filled with treasures, surprises, encouragement, and love. My dad died when we were both way too young, and Gert became both my mom and dad. Perhaps no one can ever fill the needs we receive from our moms.

May 13 is the feast of our Lady of Fatima. On May 13, 1981 Pope John Paul II (one of my heroes) was shot four times in an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City. The Pope credits Our Lady of Fatima for his survival. May is also the feast of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven (25th); St. Philip Neri (26th); and the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (31st).

Memorial Day (29th) is a federal holiday in the United States to remember those who died while serving in the armed forces and as a Vietnam veteran, is particularly poignant for me.

May is also birthday month for three of us four siblings; mine on the 10th, Paula, 26th, and Pat, 30th — Mary Ann’s is Nov. 23. Happy Birthday to us!

The best birthday I have ever had was on Saturday, May 10, 1997 when after eight years in the Ole Miss Ph.D., Counseling program (only two courses per semester as an Ole Miss employee) and (wee bit of procrastination), I was “Hooded” by my hero, Chancellor Robert Khayat. Then, as President of the Graduate Student Council, delivered an unremarkable commencement speech to the thousands attending, including Gert, my three sons, three sisters and brother-in-laws, some nephews and nieces, and many friends. Attaining this dream degree after years of study, on my birthday, with three previous degrees (BS, MA, and MAT), and almost flunking out of college, was a day I shall never forget!

Another swell birthday memory was May 10, 2010 when I drove from Scotland with my Scottish fiancée, her mum and dad (loved them), to visit her brother and family near London, England — which we toured by two buses and a boat on the Thames (loved London). On this trip, I drove for two days from their home in central Scotland, down the East Coast of England (stopping in York for the night and touring York Minister … and several pubs), then two days back to Scotland via the West Coast along the Irish Sea, spending the night in England’s beautiful Lake District, and sampling more pubs. Awesome!

I never take a single day for granted, especially on my birthday, and appreciate my family and you my friends more than you will ever know. Thank you.

GO MOM’S — GO Y’ALL — GO REBELS!

Steve Stricker received his Ph.D. in counseling from Ole Miss. He can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.