Where do babies come from? At age 74, I think that I finally figured it out.
My youth was very confusing. When I was 3 years old my mother went "on vacation to the hospital." When she came home from her vacation she had a present for me. It was my brother John Thomas Geerken. I think that he was named John and Thomas from the Bible. The "Geerken" part was a given.
When John entered my life, I had been the "sun" and everything orbited around me. Suddenly a little squirming baby, whose diaper always smelled awful, was the alpha and omega for everyone but me. I was told constantly to be a good example for my little brother. I quickly learned that you avoided being around the cloth diaper pail when they opened it to add another diaper. The smell could kill flies from 30 feet away. "Icky-Poo."
It dawned on me that if John entered my life without warning that it could happen again. With the snap of a finger I had gone from the youngest member of the family to being in the middle. (I had an older sister, Lucy, and an older brother, Fred.) I realized that I needed to understand the process to prevent this from ever repeating.
It was almost beyond my comprehension how this interloper with the little hands and feet who smelled awful and cried day and night could knock me from "king-of-the-hill," down to subterranean status. My mother told me he had "Cow Lick" (Colic.)
I needed information. Where did this howling machine come from? How can I prevent this from happening again? I went to my mother and asked her, "Where do babies come from?"
My mom looked at me for a long time and said something like this: My mother and father were planting a garden and they spread the seeds around and covered them with dirt. The hot sun and a sudden shower helped things along, and one day while my mother was walking in the garden she spied something behind a big head of cabbage. It was me! (Fancy that!)
Well this made a lot of sense because we were discussing planting a victory garden to help the war effort. I had insisted emphatically that we should send all the brussels sprouts to the soldiers "over there."
John was doing pretty well. The cow lick went away and he was sleeping through the night. I was looking forward to the day he would be old enough to be my "gofer." I would once again be the master of all I surveyed.
My mother went and spoiled everything by going on another vacation. This time John and I could wave to her as she looked out of the window of the hospital. She came home and this time both John and I were demoted to second and third place by our brother Richard George Frederick. I have no idea where the Richard George came from but the Frederick part was clearly to honor our father.
It became abundantly clear that I had to do something about this vacation business, because every time my mother took one I slipped lower and lower on the totem pole of importance. I figured out that if I could close the hospital down and get rid of the cabbage seeds I might have a fighting chance to get a better ranking.
Once again I asked my mother "where do babies come from?" and I said that I don't believe that tale about the cabbage plant. Once again she looked at me for a long time and said that there was planting again and there were seeds involved but this time she had carried Richard in her stomach in a special spot just under her heart. I was stunned!
I knew that the cabbage plant was nothing more than a "red herring," although John had on many occasions smelled like rotting cabbage leaves. As much as I wanted to know the truth of where babies came from I was really rocking from the realization that I had been carried in a "special place" right under her heart.
My confusion was made manifold by the process. I could picture being in a "special place close to her heart," but how did I get out? I had observed John and Richard being nursed, but to the best of my recollection I had never seen a door or zipper anywhere on the abdomen of my mom.
Finally it dawned on me. When my mother got sick and tired toting Richard or John around in "her special place close to her heart," she simply threw up and "viola," there we were. Now this made a lot of sense to me having been sick-to-my-stomach and throwing up what I could swear was the kitchen sink. The cool touch of "the porcelain bowl" when you rested your head on it could bring instant relief.
Now, knowing where babies came from was a big start for me finding out how to put a stop to all this baby nonsense. It was clear to me that you had to eliminate cabbage seeds from ever getting to my mother again.
The first time I ever saw a calf born was a true revelation _ my mother had been far from truthful and this sex business was a lot more complicated than I thought.
My confusion was alleviated but it was never an easy process. I recall a warm summer's night when a local lovely told me to do anything I wanted but not to kiss her because she didn't want to get pregnant. I got her home as fast as I could go.
There I was back in the garden planting cabbage seeds!
As time goes by, confusion is lost in the reality of life. I know where babies come from but I'm too old to really care.
A little post script from "the missus": As the father of his own five children, he sure got the formula right, as they are five of the most loving and accomplished adults. They are also the wonderful parents of our nine talented and caring grandchildren _ Diane.
Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.
Where do babies come from? At age 74, I think that I finally figured it out.
- Senior scene
As Time Goes By: I'm trying to be the rockin' up-to-date 'cool dude' grandpa
Time flies at my house. If I sit down to write an article, I can't help but see that I have an inbox of unread letters in my email. My brain records this as saying in block letters "YOU GOT MAIL."
From the Office: Seniors need to work to keep their brains healthy, too
As we age, both our bodies and our brains face changes. How these changes affect us are determined by genes, environment and lifestyle.
Looking Back: We should all cherish our time with our families
Time marches on, and it seems like a different lifetime since we brought up our own children.
As Time Goes By: I'm hearing voices -- and not only mine own
There are two problems that seem to be inherit to growing older, which when viewed in the context of a sentence appear to be opposites but are in truth part of the same problem â€"you either are getting deaf or you start talking to things that surround you.
From the Office: What you need to know about Affordable Care Act, Medicaid redesign
Looking Back: Good service is always appreciated
Being not a mechanic with any expertise (and I certainly don't pretend any such thing) but after all these years in this lifetime and, I might add, having numerous automobiles (too many too count), I can, with some authority, stand on that proverbial "soap box."
As Time Goes By: Fishing for the big one on the mighty Jessup River
I love to read the columns by Rick Brockway in The Daily Star. His adventures are almost like my adventures only his are 10 times better.
From the Office: Get to know more about Medicare eligibility and assistance
There are three ways to become eligible for Medicare benefits:
Looking Back: Finally, spring is here and there is much to be thankful for
Most everyone is exuberantly happy to have warmer weather finally here.
Social Security: Honor older Americans and our wounded warriors this month
Every month, I read wonderful articles written by fellow Social Security Administration employees. Sometimes it is difficult to choose just one to share with you. Since I couldn't decide, I hope you enjoy both of these pieces, honoring two important events in May.
As Time Goes By: The tale of Harvey, the Easter gift rabbit
When I was just a little boy, my mother and father had a complete loss of mind and bought me a little white fluff of a live bunny for Easter. I was told that I would learn responsibility and love at the same time.
From the Office: Stay active, involved by becoming a long-term care ombudsman
We know that there is a direct link between volunteering and increased physical and mental health for older adults.
Looking Back: Animals are amazing creatures and far from dumb
Wherever did the expression "dumb animals" come from?
Social Security: If you give a man a computer mouse, see what happens
Happy National Poetry Month. Now, if you'll have a look-see, read our poem inspired by Laura Numeroff's "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie":
As Time Goes By: There's lint in my belly button, and other observations
Itâ€™s a great day in the South â€" the sun is shining and the temperature is 75 degrees and I find myself in a reflective mood.
From the Office: Time is now to plan for the aging tsunami
It's coming. Maybe not this year, but starting in 2016, the number of older adults across the our country will begin to grow. At first it will only be a small increase, but as the baby boomers move up in age, the wave of individuals coming into the "senior" age group will become the largest in the census categories.
Looking Back: Snowy winter wonderland could be fun or a pain
Snow, snow, go away … come again another day?? Please, perhaps next year? But there is always the positive side to things -- or so it seems.
Social Security: 2014 is a year of changes at Social Security Administration
I am excited to share this article, written by a co-worker, about some very important changes happening this year at Social Security. I hope everyone will take a few minutes to read what's in store.
As Time Goes By: Identity thieves, beware of what you would get with me
I like to make slogans for each year of my birth. For example, when I was 75 I was "still alive," when I was 76 I was "learning new tricks," and this year on turning 77 I have "One foot in heaven." (With the other on the "slippery slope.")
From the Office: Laws work to help protect those in need of guardianship
Sometimes individuals cannot care for themselves. In New York, guardianship laws exist to empower others to take care of children and adults who need help to care for themselves and or their property. This is the second of a two-part column that explores the issues and the law of guardianship in New York state.
- As Time Goes By: I'm trying to be the rockin' up-to-date 'cool dude' grandpa