Thursday, November 22, 2012

Extra Reason to Celebrate

 Yes, today is Thanksgiving Day for the US and its territories, and i am grateful for so many things.  Running water and indoor plumbing, food and refrigeration to keep it fresh, garbage pick up and modern medicine, and tons of other things it would take me all day to list.

Our family has an extra reason to be thankful today, though.

It is my father's birthday.  He is celebrating his 76th year, and he is an amazing person.

He was a young child through WWII, and served in the Army during the Vietnam era.  He was on the short list of doctors to be sent over there, because as an OB/Gyn, he was considered good at abdominal surgery.  He also ended up taking care of the General's daughter during her pregnancy, and she told her dad if he sent her doctor over there she would never speak to him again.  My dad never was sent over.

Growing up, his father left the family, as he had serious problems of his own.  So my father was raised by his mother and his aunt.  He knew he wanted to be a doctor someday, and they poured all their energy into making sure it happened.

Because his mother ran a tiny grocery story that barely kept them above water, he went to work at age 11, delivering newspapers.  He worked after school, holidays, summers, and any time he wasn't in school.  He paid for his sister's piano lessons and his own trumpet and electric guitar lessons.

Every Catholic school in New Orleans back then was allotted a full scholarship to Loyola for one deserving student.  His mother told him he would be a doctor, not to worry, and bragged that her son would get that scholarship.  It embarrassed him that she bragged, but she was right.

During college, he took 21 hours a semester, was his head professor's lab assistant, worked to continue helping the family with money, and managed to have a very active social life.

A man of extreme tact and diplomacy, who could sell eggs to a chicken farmer, he wanted the group he had formed to be able to have a dance every Friday night.  There was a gymnasium that would be perfect, he knew, but everyone told him the parish priest of that diocese that ran the school would never agree, he was too mean a man and hated having fun, especially other people having fun.  My father agreed to split the gate with the parish, as they would charge for these dances and hire bands, and got permission.  He knew that more than hating fun the priest loved money.  Smart.

Right before medical school, he sold that electric guitar and trumpet, and his stamp collection, so he could buy a microscope.  He was top of his class in medical school, and yes, he still worked.

He also, during his schooling, managed to date every nurse in the class ahead of my mother's, every nurse in her class, and every nurse in the class behind hers, too.  This was a man who once dated twins, at the same time, one on each arm, and had each convinced he liked her best.  Told you he had tact and diplomacy.

So, why did he marry my mom?  She was the only one his dog liked.  Really.  They've been together 50 years.

His practice, once he got out of the Army and established it, was eventually one of the biggest in the city.  He also pitched fits to reform the practice of medicine on women.

While in the Army, he heard about a new technique called an epidural.  He got the anesthesiologists on base to teach him (Charity Hospital method -- see one, do one, teach one, okay, you are an expert).  Thus he performed the first epidural in Louisiana, on my mom, when she had my youngest brother.

He demanded women be taken seriously, be treated well, and their ailments considered more than just "in their heads."  He demanded fathers be allowed in the delivery room, that C-sections be a last resort and be the low transverse cut, and that VBAC be allowed.

Since his retirement from full time practice, he has been a consultant for several medical agencies, and is on at least half a dozen boards of non-profit and educational institutions.  He also goes on medical missions to Nicaragua.

He is as busy now as he ever was when he had a full time practice.

So today he will get his favorite gift, a special type of sweet flatbread called an hojaldra, that his aunt used to make, and that i now fix for him 3 times a year (birthday, Father's Day, and Christmas).

He deserves more than that, and i am very grateful to have known him for 49 years.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Happy Birthday, Dad.

Today is:

Daytona Turkey Run -- Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL, US (collector car show, swap meet, and craft sale; through Sunday)

Dispute-Settling Assizes -- Fairy Calendar (no, they won't tell us what kind of disputes)

Dita e Alfabetit -- Albania and Ethnic Albanians (Day of the Albanian Alphabet)

Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia -- Jamestown Settlement, Williamsburg, VA, US (exploring the 17th- and 18th-century culinary practices of Virginia; through Saturda)

Go for a Ride Day -- internet generated; during the crazy holiday season, go out for a relaxing sleigh ride or something

Holiday Lights on the Lake -- Altoona, PA, US (51 acres of lights, animations, gift shops, food, model train displays, and more; through the Sunday after New Year's Day)

Independence Day -- Lebanon(1943)

National Cashew Day -- some sites have this on the 23rd, i celebrate both as i love cashews

National Family History Day -- US (a call from the Department of Health and Human Services to get info about your family, especially health history, while everyone is together for the holidays)

National Stop the Violence Day -- a call by US radio and TV stations for a cease fire on American streets, on the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination

Phonograph Day -- Edison publicly  demonstrated his new music playing device on this day in 1877

Start Your Own Country Day -- begun at the 1939 World's Fair in New York

St. Cecilia's Day (Patron of composers, luthiers, martyrs, music, musicians, musical instrument makers, poets, singers; Academy of Music, Rome, Italy; Albi, France; Omaha, Nebraska; Valleyfield, Quebec)

Thanksgiving Day -- Interfaith, US and Territories

Turkey-Free Thanksgiving -- sponsored by the Vegetarian Awareness Network

Ydalir -- Ancient Norse Calendar (Celebration of the wintertime god of skiing and archery, Ullr; date approximate)

Birthdays Today:

Scarlett Johansson, 1984
Scott Robinson, 1979
Mariel Hemingway, 1961
Jamie Lee Curtis, 1958
Billie Jean King, 1943
Robert Vaughn, 1932
Rodney Dangerfield, 1921
Benjamin Britten, 1913
Hoagy Carmichael, 1899
Wiley Post, 1898
Charles de Gaulle, 1890
George Eliot (Mary A. Evans), 1819
Abigail Adams, 1744

Today in History:

The first Duke of all Brittany, Nominoe defeats the Frankish king Charles the Bald at the Battle of Ballon near Redon, 845
Spain delegates "New Laws" against slavery in America, 1542
Dutch colonial forces on Taiwan launch a pacification campaign against native villages, resulting in Dutch control of the middle and south of the island, 1635
Off the coast of North Carolina, British pirate Edward Teach (best known as "Blackbeard") is killed in battle with a boarding party led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard, 1718
Peregrine Williamson of Baltimore patents a steel pen, 1809
Canadian journalist and politician William Lyon Mackenzie called for a rebellion against Great Britain, 1837
In Dumbarton, Scotland, the clipper Cutty Sark is launched – one of the last clippers ever to be built, and the only one still surviving to this day, 1869
Victoria Street Cable Tram route begins in Melbourne, Australia, 1886
The Congress of Manastir establishes the Albanian alphabet, 1908
1st snowmobile patent granted to Carl Eliason of Sayner Wisconsin, 1927
The premier performance of Ravel's Boléro takes place in Paris, 1928
Gasoline pump patented that computes quantity & price delivered, 1932
"Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" first heard on Eddie Cantor's show, 1934
The Humane Society of the United States is founded, 1954
US President John F. Kennedy is killed and Texas Governor John B. Connally is seriously wounded by Lee Harvey Oswald, 1963
The United Nations General Assembly grants the Palestine Liberation Organization observer status, 1974
Juan Carlos is declared King of Spain following the death of Francisco Franco, 1975
In Palmdale, California, the first prototype B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is revealed, 1988
Toy Story is released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery, 1995
Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany, 2005


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Messymimi, and Happy Birthday to your dad. He sounds like a fine man.

  2. Your dad sounds like a special guy. I hope you have a peaceful and joyous Thanksgiving, and Happy Birthday to Dad.

  3. Thank you, Leah and Stephen. May this day bring you both special blessings.


Thanks for meandering by and letting me know you were here!