Rural Living

The (Not So) Merry Month of May

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

The best thing about the merry month of May is this: Mothers have a day all to themselves, to be honored and loved and showered with gifts.

My own dear mother is gone, and I always get a little mopey around Mother’s Day. I make it a point to steer clear of the card aisle. I mute, or skip through, TV commercials. On the “very day,” my sister and I manage to share a meal that one or the other of us has cooked (these days, that would finally be me!); yet, we also manage not to mention the actual reason we’re doing it.

Even though I try to avoid dwelling on the mother aspect of May, sometimes it sneaks in and whops me upside the head, so to speak.

It happened three years ago in Wal-Mart. I had bought myself a cluster of bright pink carnations. I spotted a sweet-looking little older lady walking past. She reminded me so much of my own mother that I was instantly swept into that aching, teary place. I glanced down at my basket and grabbed the bouquet.

I ran up to the lady, a complete stranger, and said, “Ma’am, you don’t know me, but you really remind me of my late mother. I’d like you to have these.” I thrust the flowers at her. “Happy Mother’s Day!” The look on her face was priceless. I felt wonderful for days afterward.

To my surprise, about a week later, I found a lovely lavender envelope in my mailbox. It was a thank-you card from the lady. I forget to remember that my face is plastered in this magazine and two newspapers I write for; this was another reminder to strive to be on my best behavior at all times.

The years marched on. A couple weeks ago, there I was in Wal-Mart again. I noticed another sweet little lady who immediately reminded me of Mom. She seemed to be moving slowly and unsurely. I wanted to run up and ask if I could somehow help her. But unsolicited help from overbearing strangers is not always a welcome thing.

Instead, I lurked about over by the artichokes and watched the lady. If she falters, I told myself, I will indeed run over there.

Then, I noticed an older man intently watching me as I was watching her. I smiled at him. He came up to me. “What is your name?” I told him, and he said, “I thought so. You’re the one who gave the flowers to my wife a few years back.” I felt a little foolish. Turns out, I had zeroed in on the same lady, years apart, and had not remembered.

The man took me over to his wife and introduced us. She let me hug her. It was a wonderful way to get a little teary in the produce section. “I will never forget what you did,” she said. “That was the nicest thing that’s ever happened to me.” Well, I won’t forget her, either.

And now, a humorous story where the tables are turned.

A man shopping in a supermarket noticed a little old lady following him around. She kept staring at him. She finally overtook him at the checkout, turned to him and said, “I hope I haven’t made you feel ill at ease; it’s just that you look so much like my late son. I know it’s silly, but if you’d call out ‘Goodbye, Mom’ as I leave the store, it would make me very happy.” After she left the checkout, the man called out, “Goodbye, Mom.” The lady waved, and smiled back at him. Pleased that he had brought a little sunshine into someone’s day, he went to pay for his groceries.  

“That’ll be $121.85,” said the clerk. 

“You’re kidding! I only bought five items.” 

“Yeah, but your mother said you’d be paying for her things, too.”

A reader of this magazine recently sent me a wonderful book she’s written, Oh, Mama. It is Jan Watkins’ touching tribute to her late mother, Beulah Wright. If you’ve not yet found some special Mother’s Day gift, this book might be the perfect thing. Jan publishes it herself. It costs all of six dollars, and you can order it by sending Jan Watkins an email at And, if your mother is already enjoying her heavenly reward, just go ahead and treat yourself. You deserve some comfort in this merry month of May.


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