Years of schooling prepared me for the month of May.
Successful and happy as a student, I learned to enjoy the variety of ways I got the message “Well done!” The grade on a final examination, an average on my report card, the gold or silver card in a specific course, a medal at convocation or a plaque at graduation, the honors designation on a diploma – in typical ways I experienced and relished the month’s traditional affirmations.
And I needed affirmations that were dependable and uncomplicated and clear.
May meant that I heard my name and read my name in places and at times that lots of other people didn’t. Only September roll calls at the start of a new school year could possibly rival for me May’s sweet and steady litany of achievement and approval.
I confess I liked people’s listing my name, reading it in public, writing it in calligraphy.
A kind of healing seemed to issue from each new “John…” that I saw or heard.
Years later, seeing my name on bills and catalogs usually does not distract me. I am still new enough in this apartment, though, to be taken aback by the sight of my name topping a new address. Each piece of mail waiting on the floor inside my front door at the end of a May work day seems something of a diploma, a report card, a commendation.
If I am here, it’s because I have learned something.
I am relieved to hear yet again, in that friendly voice from deep within, “Well done...”