Sunday, October 6, 2013

Grandpa's Big Event

While getting ready for heading to N'Awlins for Grandpa's Big Event, Bigger Girl and i talked.  She came downstairs wearing her new heels for the occasion, attempting to get used to them.

"These are awful!" she said.  "I'll never get these broken in!"

Of course not, i noted.  You don't break shoes in by wearing them only once or twice a year for special occasions, and you don't break them in anyway.  If they don't feel good on your feet from the moment you put them on, they will break your feet in, but you won't break them in.

"Well, when I'm done with these on this occasion, I'd donate them to the battered women's shelter or something, but donating these would be a crime against humanity!  I'd feel safer riding bareback on a Clydesdale!"

Really, i said drily.

"Yes!  Oh, and i've decided that if I ever get married, I want it to be to a philosopher who writes books, and who is tall enough to help me get up on the backs of the Clydesdales we will raise out in the country."

That's a pretty amazing dream.  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened.

The event itself was spectacular.  Sweetie was very impressed with the jazz band hired for entertainment during the cocktail hour and the dinner.  The actual presentation didn't take too terribly long, either.  Many of these things drag on for hours, but this one didn't.

Fancy dining area, with a band!

We were all dressed up, with Bigger Girl looking like she wasn't used to heels, which was true, and Little Girl saying, "These shoes make me walk like a shuffling penguin!"  None of us are dress up all the time type of girls.  Sweetie looked fine in his tux, and #2 Son got a lot of comments about how fabulous he looked in his dark suit, sunglasses hanging from the pocket, wearing his beloved dark Fedora.  He's one of those who looks great in a hat.

Both of my brothers were there, Uncle J, as usual, with an elegant blonde by his side (his ex is one of those, too).

The hotel was one of those posh places i never go in unless Grandpa invites us as they charge you to breathe the air in there.  It's delightful to be able, on occasion, to live like that.

Even at a swanky hotel, they get the crazies, i guess.

The dinner was also one of those expensive affairs where they charge you a huge price per plate and give you a tiny serving of something you can hardly eat.  Actually, i'm only exaggerating a little.  Grandpa knew to ask them for vegetarian plates for us, so i guess they thought they were giving us a treat, serving us mushrooms instead of the steak everyone else go.  Except that only one of the four vegetarians in the group eats mushrooms.  Oh, well.

During his acceptance speech, Grandpa got choked up at two points.  One was when he talked about his mother.

MawMaw, whose cast iron i still use daily, believed unhesitatingly in her son.  They were poor, her husband had left, she was running a small store and barely hanging on by a thread, and everyone told him that since he had to deliver papers and work after school jobs just to help feed the family, that there was no way he would ever grow up to be a physician.  His mother prayed over him, believed in him, and her devotion to his cause sustained him.

In those days, there weren't student loans, and every high school got one scholarship to the university he wanted to attend.  His mother told everyone, well in advance, that her son would win that scholarship at his school.  Her faith in him and in G-d to make his dream come true was unshakeable.  He won that scholarship.

We are talking about a man who took 21 semester hours every semester of college and still threw newspapers and worked odd jobs to make sure his family had enough to eat.

He had to sell his beloved trumpet and electric guitar in order to afford the microscope he was required to buy when he went to medical school, where he also had a scholarship.  He continued to work then, too.  He didn't stop delivering papers until he graduated medical school and married my mother.

When he finished up his internship and two years as chief resident, he went to do his two years in the Army -- everyone was ROTC at his college, and it was the Vietnam Era, and he had to give them his time like everyone else.  (Yes, one of my brothers and i were around for that, but i barely remember; i was four when we moved back to N'Awlins, my brother was 2).

Moving back from his time in the service, he came back to town with some weird ideas.  Dads belong in the delivery room, he fought that with every hospital.  Epidural anesthesia was the way to go, and when the local anesthesiologists wouldn't do it, he did it on his own patients (the very first epidural for delivery in Louisiana was done on my mom, by my dad, when she gave birth to my youngest brother), and for free.  Low bikini transverse incisions were to be used for all abdominal surgery on women.  Many years after these, he fought for VBAC, for 

The medical establishment fought back so hard that he used to look at my mother in despair.  As he said in his speech, and this was the second time he choked up a bit, he would come home from yet another meeting where the board of a hospital or the local medical board would have questioned his methods and he would tell her that they needed to move, to go someplace progressive, where they would practice medicine with the patient in mind, not just "the way it was always done."

My mother would tell him, "You aren't going anywhere.  What you are doing today will be the standard of care in a few years."

She was right, too.  Eventually, it turned out that way.  Also, eventually, he got to this point, where he could do what he wanted most, take care of the poor, free of charge.  The women's clinic he started and got support for in one of the poorest areas of Nicaragua does just that.

After dinner, Bigger Girl, #2 Son, and Little Girl took the opportunity to walk around New Orleans a bit.  At one point they ended up on Bourbon Street, a dapper guy with dark glasses, suit, and Fedora, accompanied by two young girls all dressed up, i'm sure they were quite the sight.

Little Girl's assessment of Bourbon Street:  "It stinks, it's full of drunks, and I don't even want to know what I stepped in!"  Bigger Girl agreed.

Yep, kids, that street is only fit for daytime strolling.  It's much better to stick to the areas that have more shopping type of options and fewer bars.

Since the event was over early, i strolled out to a nearby coffee place, too, and had a decaf and a vegetarian snack to tide me over.

The next morning, the kids took their time getting up, getting breakfast (and an amazing breakfast it was, cage free eggs and all), while Sweetie and i got up and went out for coffee, then came back to eat.  Sweetie went back to bed, as did #1 Son, while the girls went one way to go see some of the shops that looked interesting but were closed the night before, and i went down to the Riverwalk.

All good things end, so we packed and were out of the hotel by checkout time.

On the way back home, we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's house to drop off a few things we had brought from home for him, and to get our yearly flu vaccine.

Time to get back to real life -- at least, until the game at the uni this weekend, where Grandpa has the local hotel reserved for us.  

Today is:

Apple Festival -- Old Prairie Town, Topeka, KS, US (celebrating apples and Topeka's turn of the last century heritage)

Armed Forces Day -- Egypt

Blessing of the Fishing Fleet -- Church of Saints Peter and Paul and Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA, US (a blessing is offered on the first Sunday of October each year)

Chowderfest -- Mystic Seaport, CT, US (festival of New England Chowders; through Monday)

Earthquake Remembrance Day -- Turkmenistan

Erntedankfest -- Germany (Thanksgiving/Harvest fest, on the first Sunday in October)

Festival of the Other Five Toes -- Fairy Calendar

Fire Prevention Week begins -- Canada; US (and a great idea everywhere, feel free to join in)

Garlic Lovers Day -- internet generated, unofficial, and delicious

Ghatasthapana -- Nepal (start of the longest and most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar)

Great Books Week begins -- previously sponsored by Excellence in Literature; this year, their website doesn't mention it, but it's always the first full week of the month

International African Diaspora Day

Ivy Day -- Ireland (death anniversary of Irish nationalist leader and Home Rule advocate Charles Stewart Parnell)

Mad Hatter Day -- US (second crazy day in the year, to balance April Fool's Day, and based on the 10/6 on the Mad Hatter's hat in Tenniel's drawing; in English-speaking countries where the day precedes the month in notation, it is celebrated on June 10)

Maharaja Agrasen Jayanti -- HR, India

National German-American Day -- US (anniversary of the disembarking of the first German immigrants to Pennsylvania in 1683)
     German Pioneer Day -- Pennsylvania

National Metric Week -- US (yes, it's no fun to switch; get over it and learn, it's good for your brain!)

National Noodle Day

National Physician's Assistant Day -- US (anniversary of the first graduating class of physician assistants from Duke University on this day in 1967

Pulaski Day Parade -- Philadelphia, PA, US (honoring the Polish patriot known as the "Father of the American Cavalry")

St. Faith's Day (Patron of pilgrims, prisoners, soldiers)

St. Bruno's Day (Founder of the Carthusian Monks; Patron against demonic possession)

Tishreen Liberation War Day -- Syria

World Communion Sunday -- Christian

Anniversaries Today:

American Library Association founded in 1876

Birthdays Today:

Elisabeth Shue, 1963
Britt Ekland, 1942
Thor Heyerdahl, 1912
Carole Lombard, 1908
Le Corbusier, 1887
George Westinghouse, 1846
Jenny Lind, 1820

Debuting/Premiering Today:

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, 2000
The Jazz Singer, 1927 (the first "talkie")

Today in History:

The Cimbri inflict the heaviest defeat on the Roman Republic army of Gnaeus Mallius Maximus in the Battle of Arausio, BC105
Founding of Germantown, Pennsylvania by 13 Mennonite families from Germany, 1683
The Americans and French begin the siege of Cornwallis at Yorktown, which becomes the last battle of the American Revolutionary War, 1781
Benjamin Hanks patents a self-winding clock, 1783
Louis XVI accedes to the demands of the women of Paris and returns to that city, 1789
Great Fire of Newcastle and Gateshead begins shortly after midnight, leads to 53 deaths and hundreds of injuries, 1854
The American Chess Association is organized and holds the first major US chess tournament, in NYC, 1857
The American Library Association is organized in Philadelphia, 1876
Thomas Edison shows his first motion picture, 1889
Nabisco Foods debuts its Cream of Wheat, 1893
Beatrix Van Rijk becomes the first licensed Dutch woman pilot, 1911
Opening of The Jazz Singer, the first prominent talking movie, 1927
Egypt launches a coordinated attack against Israel to reclaim land lost in the Six Day War, 1973
Massacre of students gathering at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand to protest the return of ex-dictator Thanom, 1976
Pope John Paul II becomes the first pontiff to visit the White House, 1979
President of Egypt, Anwar al-Sadat is assassinated, 1981
51 Pegasi is discovered to be the first major star apart from the Sun to have a planet (and extrasolar planet) orbiting around it, 1995
Jason Lewis completes the first human-powered circumnavigation of the globe, 2007


  1. You certainly came from marvelous stock! What a wonderful experience for your children to hear their heritage. I was wondering what they would say about Bourbon street. I walked there when I was 23 and 6 months pregnant and felt the same way about the place.

  2. What a fun event even though you only got mushrooms for dinner. Oh well, things are what they are at times. Your grandpa sounds like a very awesome individual. I'm sure you are all very proud.

    Have a terrific day. :)

  3. What a wonderful person your grandfather is. Judging by his granddaughter and great grandkids, I'm not at all surprised.

  4. Grandpa is quite a guy and this was certainly a special occasion I'm glad you were all able to enjoy.

  5. What an amazing and inspiring story, and your Grandpa sounds like a wonderful, wonderful man. And his mother, equally impressive in her belief in him. It must have made him so thrilled to have his family round him and review his life in this way. I bet he feels really lucky.

    But a fancy hotel might consider having a veggie option on its menu rather than mushrooms in future - though it clearly came up to scratch in all the other ways so I don't suppose you were too bothered!

    As for heels... I can't believe I used to wear heels all day sometimes. Ah the things youth will do to be fashionable! :)

  6. Congrats to Grandpa!

    I always get a kick out of the incongruous things in hotel rooms, like the "don't hang your clothes here, you dope!" sticker you showed. I think my favorite are the hangers that you can't remove from the racks because they're so afraid you'll steal clotheshangers. I mean, if you have clothes that need hanging in the first place, most of the time you already have them on hangers. And do they think there's some sort of international clotheshanger black market? At the prices most places I stay at charge, they could afford to give away a hanger to every guest in the place and a few hundred of their closest friends.