Class Words image Title/Author image Menu image

Evelyn Tenhulsen image

Some of you will have played this game, which I’ll step back to, but first a timely diversion. As it happens, Mom’s birthday is in May, right after Mother’s Day. Not long after moving to Ralston, we made a big move to Maywood Street. It may have been an accident, or maybe not. It is in our early years there, living directly across Maywood from our church, that I first remember May Day observances, baskets cutely left in secrecy on neighboring porches, and likewise received — “doing unto others,” as well we learned.

It seems we even went once so far as a (maybe not so Christian) Maypole event (Mom would have made us costumes), a tent of twirling ribbons springing kids on the end, but that may have been another house down, past the Spooners' high hedged domicile, at Maywood Grade School where we went to learn, but in it's broad brick shadow outside, across the street from the highly climbable Ma(y)ple tree, catty cornered from the church. If there was a Maypole then, it spun near the center of our world, in a class of its own.

There was no obsession with simply May things, though. For Evelyn Tenhulzen, it was just another magic moment she invested with her “Mother May I” charm. Her middle name was Dale, and we grew up in a dale of Mayday spillover, and from her outspread role, she spun us into unimagined realms of mystic holidays and familiar familial observances, from when the Christmas tree towered up across the street and she caroled us towards it, or to where the Town Hall two blocks down heralded us to ever more civil behavior, and even cast her shadow toward the sprinkled domes which later rose up in timely fashion, fantasyland like, to high school us beyond community limits, with her and Dad in rapt attendance at their kids’ multifarious events (in abnormally large number in May).

This may not be like what all mothers do, but they are certainly intertwined, as I recall the mothers of our friends being, the Joyce’s and Joan’s and Betty’s, and the fabric that spread out from them, into our lives of fellowship and growth. And of course, Evelyn also had a mother, grandma Grace, back in Topeka, whom she, with her sister Leanne, visited and cared for scrupulously until Grace died at 99, and now Evvy's turning 90 herself. Mom’s maiden name was Fisher, and she always stayed true to her Biblical roots: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers . . . . “ Amen.

If we deigned to stray from those, we invariably had to ask, “Mother, May I?” “No, you may not do that,” Evvy would reply, “but you may return to the starting line.” That was harsh. Maybe not always gladly, but we usually complied. Maywood was a place we could abide, with many amazing places to seek and hide, knowing we had a Mom down street who would always take our side. Some cranky old man once wrote, “April is the cruelest month . . . ,” but Mom’s rejoinder might well be, “ . . . but then there’s the miracle of May.” To me, that seems much more righteous. What else might one expect from a marvelous, completely unjaded mom?