I’d been casually chatting with my father about my growing orchid obsession. He looked at me a little funny – nothing out of the ordinary there – when he dropped a bomb, “You know, your grandfather grew these orchids.”
No, no I didn’t know that. I’d remembered the greenhouses from my early childhood. Every other weekend, I recall, we’d go to a certain greenhouse or another, which is why the smell of that good green growing earth makes me nostalgic and warm inside. I remember being a toddler, spending hours at the rose garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden, listening to my family plan my future wedding there. I cannot tell you how sorry I am that I did not marry there.
My grandfather grew roses – beautiful roses – always puttering around with them, lovingly spraying them with this and that, warding off all potential pests and coaxing out the most beautiful, heavenly-scented blooms.
When I grew my own rose garden, lovingly spraying them with this and that, warding off potential pests, and coaxing out the most beautiful, heavenly-scented blooms, I’d think of him. Not at first. But eventually, I felt as though he was right there beside me, helping me identify pests and apply the proper fertilizers.
The orchids, though, they threw me through a loop. Until I found this:
That’s an orchid bloom in my curls.
My grandfather is with me always, it seems.
He is my hero.
And not just because he grew orchids and roses like I do, but because he lived the sort of live I hope to live. It was a life less ordinary.
He graduated from Johns Hopkins medical school at nineteen and became a doctor at the same age that my life hit a crossroads. I’d always planned to go to medical school myself, and life found a way. I became a mother.
He worked as the sort of family doctor that made housecalls, his forceps and stethoscope always in his medical bag, ready to deliver a baby, diagnose rubella, or treat a broken arm. It was during these housecalls that he was exposed to tuberculosis and spent many months at a TB sanatorium in the mountains, missing out on his first son’s – my father’s – early life.
Before that, though, he was a doctor in the United States Army. He was the first on the scene when the Allies liberated the concentration camps. He was the first medical personnel to treat the concentration camp victims. He never spoke of those days, what he saw, the atrocities of the Nazi’s, and what he had to do to help the survivors, although I know they weighed on him.
By the time I rolled around, he’d given up his medical practice and became the head of pathology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The apple of his eye, his granddaughter, he spent as much time with as he could. Weekends roaming the botanical gardens. Nights at Ravinia, on the lawn, under the stars, listening to the magical strains of Saint Matthew’s Passion and The 1812 Overture, eating fried chicken on a picnic blanket. Those were the best days of my young life.
An adult with children of my own, my grandfather long-passed, I have the vain hope that one day, my life will, too, be remembered as less ordinary, if only by myself. That because of the choices I’ve made, the people I carry in my heart, the people who now (however virtually) walk by my side, the experiences I’ve put behind me, that my own life can be as far from ordinary as his.
I’d say that I miss you, Grandpa, but I know you’re always with me.
Today, tomorrow, always.
I’m planning to make some new shirt designs, but since I cannot eat a sandwich without first consulting The Internet, I am asking for your opinion. In nifty poll form!
Would you order any of these shirts? Check all that apply. And, of course, you can write any other suggestions in the comments.
Dear Aunt Becky,
I’ve been at this craptastical job for 5 years, during which they ass raped me with a spiked concrete dildo during both my maternity leave and the more recent incident with my husband’s stroke. During that, not only did they choose to string out the Medical Leave paperwork and make it more stressful than my HUSBAND BEING IN THE ICU, but also kept me on a line about whether or not they would be laying me off.
I’ve just been offered a job at Apple Retail (which I will be accepting) and be able to do my photography (holla!) and virtual assistance on the side (if you are a photographer or small business owner, check me out! http://thephotogshelper.com *cough* ) and will be starting training this weekend.
Now, my question is this! What is the most epic way to quit? I don’t care about burning bridges, as they have already screwed me here to there and I would rather whore myself out than try to come back here to work, but I want something good.
Pissed in Portland
Dear Pissed in Portland,
My suggestion is something that someone I knew once did. Not, of course, myself, because I’m a VERY classy person. Or maybe it was a dream I had. I don’t remember.
He went in on the day he was going to quit and took a gigantic piss on his bosses keyboard. He then left his resignation letter floating in the piss puddle on the desk.
You would probably have to put your pee in a jar, but you know, same sentiments.
Do let us know what you decide to do. And Pranksters? Any suggestions?
Dear Aunt Becky
I have 3 kids with autism. What this means is that I am always too sleep deprived to be quick on my feet when people say stupid shit to me. Usually I can think of a snarktastic reply to stupid shit later, and use it on the next idiot.
Them: That child just needs some discipline! (i.e. Why don’t you beat him?! I would totally beat him!)
Me: OMG! Why didn’t I think of that! Of course, I’ve just been letting him do whatever he wants whenever he wants without the first thought of trying to discipline him. WOW. Thank you for curing his Autism with a single ignorant remark!
However, I have run into one I don’t know what to do with. And since you seem to be thoroughly awesome at snark…
How in hell do you reply to, “Is your kid a retard?”
I refuse to reply, “No, but I have my doubts about you” simply because that would be using that horrible slur back on someone else. It’s not okay to use the r-word, regardless of how stupid someone is. So… do you have an idea?
Jesus Christ, people can be such ignorant fuckbags, can’t they?
Honestly, I’d shoot them the death glare for a couple of loooooooonnnngggg moments before replying with, “Hey, FUCK YOU.” Baring that, “you shut your whore mouth,” always works.
Pranksters? Any thoughts?
As always, your sage advice is appreciated in the comments below. What would you tell these Pranksters to do?
And submit your questions to the Go Ask Aunt Becky section at the top of the blogs, if you dare.
(no, I am not pregnant. This was something I created for Band Back Together’s Resource Pages. See, Mom! Those nursing textbooks you bought me ARE useful for things other than doorstops!)
Week One HA! Fooled you. It’s your period. The last one you (should) have for forty weeks. Enjoy it.
Week Two: Thank GOD that period bloat is gone.
Week Three: Sperm, meet egg! Hopefully it was preceded by a very nice, extremely expensive candle-lit dinner. If it wasn’t, WELCOME TO THE CLUB.
Week Four: Your baby is now a BLASTOCYST. It sounds like something you’d say when you sneeze, but I assure you this is where the magic happens (also: when you eat Twizzlers. They’re magical). That ball of rapidly dividing cells will implant itself into your warm cozy womb.
Week Five: CONGRATS, MAMA! Yer knocked up! But…your baby looks like a brine shrimp. It’s a very CUTE one, but it’s a brine shrimp. It does have wee arm and leg buds (I don’t think shrimpies have those, but I’m allergic, so you know). Even more exciting, all of it’s organ systems – including the heart and lungs – are beginning to form. You know, so it can scream it’s head off to you when you don’t buy it Justin Beaver tickets.
Week Six: You’re probably feeling like dogshit. It’s okay, have a saltine and some nice Gatorade. Y’know, stuff you can puke up more easily. If you’re like me, you probably look six months pregnant already, even though your blastocyst is the a little bigger than a poppyseed.
Week Seven: Your baby is getting it’s kidneys ready to properly whiz all over your face, your carpet, your couch, it’s bed, and anywhere else it can possibly pee. Babies are good that way. It’s approximately the size of a blueberry, which should make you a) starving or b) vomit to read. Sorry about the fruit thing.
Week Eight: Well, okay, good, your baby looks like a baby and less like a shrimp. PHEW. It’s got fingers and toes (they are webbed, but you know, think of it like a duck and NOT like a Carny.) Even better? IT’S TAIL IS ALMOST GONE. Yep. I said tail. I meant it, too. Plus, it’s brain is forming. So it can outwit you. Trust me, it will.
Week Nine: Your less shrimpy baby’s weight can now be measured in ounces. Like vodka. Even better? NO TAIL. Although, I might like a prehensile tail sometime.
Week Ten: Those creepy arm buds are limbs that can move now, which means that your baby could very well be flicking you off RIGHT NOW. You should put the naughty baby in Time Out and give Aunt Becky his toys.
Week Eleven: Did you know I had to look up how to spell “eleven?” Because I did. Your baby and his developing brain is much smarter than me, even if his muscles are gearing up to kick your ass from the inside.
Week Twelve: Okay, so your baby has a big head. Like HUGE. A melon of a head. Well, in proportion to the rest of it. Your bobble-headed baby is getting nails, too, which is fancy. If you’re lucky, you should be able to hear the galloping heartbeat via Fetal Doppler, too. Always exciting.
Week Thirteen: Did you know that fingerprints are thought to be created by fetal movement in the womb? I thought that was kinda neat. Anyway. Your baby’s three inch long body is catching up to it’s gigantor head.
Week Fourteen: Welcome to the second trimester. If you call it “the golden trimester” in my presence, I will cut you. So, your baby can now do all of these fancy things with it’s face, like grimace, suck it’s thumb, squint and frown. That’s all gearing up for the terrible two’s and the teenage years. Enjoy the expressions when you can’t see them in front of you telling you how LAME you are.
Week Fifteen: Your baby weighs as much as a shot of vodka. Or the ones Aunt Becky pours, which are two and a half ounces. Plus, it’s starting to look like a REAL BABY and not a freaky shrimp creature.
Week Sixteen: Your baby’s head is still ginormous. Luckily, it’s getting hair on that beast, so if it should decide to comb it’s hair in the womb, it so could. Your baby is also getting big enough to dance the night away, probably on the bladder, thereby interrupting your sleep in a series of nights that, trust me, you’ll be up with the baby. (you should put your baby in Time Out for that)
Week Seventeen: I’d tell you your baby was the size of a turnip but I have no clue what a turnip looks like so it’s useless. Your baby is getting sweat glands this week which means LOTS of stinky socks in your future.
Week Eighteen: Hopefully by now you’ve gotten to feel your baby tap-tappity-tap-tap you. Because he’s dancing up a freaking storm in there. And those small movements (called quickening) are what makes pregnancy worth it. No, seriously. SHUT UP, I’M ALLOWED TO HAVE FEELINGS.
Week Nineteen: Your baby can hear you sing. So knock off the crappy Britney impersonations (that was my note to self).
Week Twenty: So your baby is learning to breathe. Talk about awesome. No seriously, those lungs are important and it should practice breathing so it can scare the shit out of you with shrieks someday soon. I told you the good stuff first. Now? I need to warn you. Your baby is also covered with cheesy vernix caeseosa. And hair. Everywhere. See? I told you it was scary.
Week Twenty-One: You’ve probably figured out if your gestating a boy or girl. So get ready to pick out paint colors for the nursery and then make someone else paint it. Milk that pregnancy for all it’s worth, girl.
Week Twenty-Two: Your baby weighs almost a pound and is getting fatter by the minute. Don’t think you need to put him on Baby Atkins yet. Baby fat = good.
Week Twenty-Three: From the outside, your baby looks like the alien in Alien, what with the squirming and twisting and trying to exit through your belly button. Stupid baby; we all know that the belly button is NOT the place a baby comes from. It’s your vagina.
Week Twenty-Four: Now your baby can hear. So you can TOTALLY put it in time-out for making you retain so much freaking WATER.
Week Twenty-Five: If you have an ultrasound now, you can probably see some of baby’s hair swirling around. Unless you have a cue-ball baby. Then, not so much.
Week Twenty-Six: If you’re having a boy crotch parasite, his testicles are descending to the scrotum. Just what you wanted to think about.
Week Twenty-Seven: You’ll know if baby gets the hiccups now because your belly will jump around all freaky-style. Luckily, baby isn’t big enough to HURT YOU yet when it does that.
Week Twenty-Eight: Your baby weighs over two pounds, but still, it’s pretty skinny. On the upside, it’s less wrinkled and red than it’s been before. Even cooler, it can open it’s lash-rimmed eyes. Bummer it can’t tell you what it sees because I bet it’s rad. Also: 96% of babies born at 28 weeks gestation survive. Win!
Week Twenty-Nine: You should probably sign up for those Lamaze classes so you can answer me a question that has haunted me for years: why do the ladies in the birthing videos deliver naked?
Week Thirty: Now, baby is getting ready to be expelled from your body. It’s assumed the “head down” position, if it’s a good baby, and it’s getting fatter! See, unlike adult fat, baby fat is full of the awesome, for their health AND adorability. Also: your baby is aware of the sounds outside of the womb. Maybe it’s time to turn down the porn.
Week Thirty-One: Your mean baby is probably keeping you up all night kicking your spleen. I’ll lie and say “it gets better once they’re born,” but it’s not true. I mean, it IS true. You’ll have the miracle baby that sleeps through the night from birth. (P.S. ground that baby now and give me his presents)
Week Thirty-Two: Your baby is less wrinkled now, which is good. Who wants to give birth to a baby that looks like a old man wearing a onsie?
Week Thirty-Three: Baby is now pretty tightly fit in your uterus, which means you’ll feel it a hell of a lot more when baby kicks the shit out of your bladder. It’s okay if you pee a little when you sneeze. We all do. Well, except for me. Because I am a miracle.
Week Thirty-Four: You’re probably wearing underwear that could double as the mast from a sailboat. But damn, that shit is COMFORTABLE.
Week Thirty-Five: Even if your hospital bag is packed, color coded, and organized alphabetically, I promise you that you’ll forget the one thing you really need and make someone else go buy it for you. Or, you’ll never use the suitcase of stuff you brought because you’re bleeding everywhere and just want more of those damn ice packs for your crotch. Perhaps it’s just me.
Week Thirty-Six: All that hair that I talked about before that made your baby look like Sasquatch? Well, thankfully, it’s disappearing now. Because a baby with a hairy back is creepy. Your baby’s body is getting nice and fat, which is good, because it helps it regulate body temperature once it’s outside of the womb. Speaking of that, hope you have your nursery ready, because D-Day is almost here.
Week Thirty-Seven: Welcome to full-term. Your baby is cooked. NOW you can start obsessing over the signs of labor and assume you’re in labor every time you have heartburn (right, like you haven’t been doing that since Week Eight.) Trust me when I say this: labor feels like labor, not heartburn.
Week Thirty-Eight: Baby’s getting fatter, but every minute seems like an hour and every hour seems like an eternity as you wait to pop out your baby. Disconnect yourself from social media lest you go on a mad Twitter rampage about how unhappy you are. There ARE people without legs, after all.
Week Thirty-Nine: Sorry you’re still pregnant. I’m sure you’re miserable, especially since people stare at you with mouths agape when you go out in public. Apparently, the general public has never seen a pregnant woman before. You should kick them if they stare. I’ll get your bail money.
Week Forty: That cheesy vernix caeseosa is almost gone now, which is good, because it makes your baby look like a statue. Your baby is also fat, pink and happy. Well, okay, I lied. Most babies are decidedly UN-happy. But hey, you didn’t hear it from me. It’s time to push a baby out of your vagina (or have it removed from above) and wear those awesomely gigantic mesh panties they give you at the hospital. Screw Victoria’s Secret; THOSE is where the party is.
Week Forty-One: Are you STILL fucking pregnant? That’s bullshit. Get some really obnoxious music (think C and C Music Factory) and play it to your belly, all Branch Davidians-Style. You should probably take your phone off the hook so you don’t get a zillion “are you STILL pregnant?” questions. Because trust me. If you’re still pregnant, you don’t need to make nifty smalltalk.
Week Forty-Two: Okay, I feel sorry enough for you by now to actually help this along myself. Threaten baby with A Visit From Crazy Aunt Becky.