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As a child, I envisioned "May Day" much in the manner in which Renaissance Faire players open and close the faire day: with costumed dancers weaving around a flower-and-ribbon-festooned pole, creating intricate patterns in both ribbon and step as they pass over and under each other, turning around and around and around. At some point along that axis, the vision of morris dancing entered the picture, as well as hunting, flower gathering, and so on. In short, May Day had entered the common vernacular as a more meaningful celebration of spring than the vernal equinox itself. (Then again, how many buds, leaves, blooms, and blossoms do we see around St. Patrick's Day?)
Later on, I learned about the French custom of lovers giving each other gifts of lillies-of-the-valley (muguets), bringing me to a brief fascination with the Coty fragrance Muguets des Bois. In the various Celtic and Wiccan pagan traditions, the first of May is the feast of Beltane, in which the Lord (God) is united with the Lady (Goddess); it is a festival of love and fertility and joy; many handfastings and marriages are made on that day.
It was sometime in high school that I learned of May Day celebrations in the (then) Soviet-bloc Communist countries, celebrating Labor. (Wikipedia says these are a lot like the Labor Day celebrations in the United States.) Since our family was strongly anti-Communist, any thoughts I might have had about commemorating the ancient holiday were quickly suppressed.
Perhaps the most interesting association of those syllables is when they are elided into a single word, "MAYDAY".
The first time I was the word "MAYDAY" was in an Archie comic book. I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I do remember that it was something Jughead said, and that it indicated potential disaster. (Of course, Archie being a mostly-humorous comic strip, the situation ended with everyone safe on the ground, with little more than perhaps some property damage to ire Mr. Lodge.)
In radio communication, "MAYDAY" is the spoken equivalent of "SOS" and just as there are many tales and speculations about the origins of those three letters ("Save Our Ship", "Save Our Souls", or just the easy-to-remember and -recall combination of dots and dashes), there are theories about the origin of MAYDAY. The most common is that, pronunciation-wise, it is almost identical to the French imperative, M'aider ("[to] help me"). A person crying "MAYDAY" into his microphone is a person in need of immediate, desperate help.
While most of us will never need to cry "MAYDAY" or key "SOS", we all need help at some time or another. Add diabetes, and many of its complications or comorbid conditions into the mix, and that need for help is even greater. Whether it be a spare vial of strips or a prescription for metformin, figuring out a new set of basals on a pump, or finding a gluten- and allergen-free low-carb recipe for crescent cookies, we are always in need of, or able to offer, help to others on our pancreatically-challenged path.
Perhaps, while we are weaving between red and white ribbons, and communing with our (possibly Viagra-enhanced) spouses in a field of lillies-of-the-valley, we should answer the call of May First with three words that were made famous in a STAR TREK episode: Let me help.
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)
Nicole Purcell lists having type 1 diabetes last when she's asked to provide information about herself - because that's where it belongs. (Read More)