So here it is at last. The last blob to mark my big day when I’m not going-on-80 any more. I’ve graduated at last. With 80 birthdays behind me, I am finally going to have to sit down and figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
As I’m writing this, it’s still Labor Day. I don’t know about you, but when Labor Day rolls around every year, it isn’t the great American workforce I’m thinking of. It’s all those many labor rooms I had occasion to visit and linger in.
Unless you enjoy pain, the labor room is a place you might want to avoid. Octo-woman can help. Thanks to her ten pregnancies, she eventually was able to design and utilize many heretofore unknown birth control strategies.
Because you have been such a faithful and generous reader of this blob all year, Octo-woman wants to thank you by sharing some of these important secrets.
The first method of birth control we shall discuss today is rhythm. Octo-woman does not recommend it. Rhythm – also known as Vatican Roulette – is a sinister method of birth control, which, if pursued carefully, with the studied use of charts, graphs and calendars, can invariably guarantee that you will be pregnant within 30 days.
Take my husband Gene and me, for instance. On the day we were married, we set off on our trip to Miami, Florida where we planned to work and continue our schooling. Along the way, Gene – ever the avid traveller, always seeking out interesting tourist sites along the way – wanted to stop and see St. Augustine, the oldest city in America. When we got there, he stopped and was looking at the travel guide. “Look, Patty.” he said. “There’s a quaint old shrine here that was established in 1565. Want to drive over and see it?”
“The name’s in Spanish”, he said. “It looks like ‘La Madre De La Leche.”
Then came my fateful reply. “Sure, I’m game”.
And so, like a couple of demented turtle doves, we visited and prayed in the shrine dedicated to the mother of the nursing milk. This is a shrine where for a few centuries now, married people have come to pray for fertility. Yes, that’s correct – fertility. In olden days, fertility was considered something to be desired.
Well, anyway, we can never say we didn’t ask for what followed. What followed was Mark Peter, Matthew Damian, Lisa Marie, Susan Marie, Gretchen Marie, Teresa Marie, and Judith Marie. And each was accompanied by a marching procession of Bills.
It didn’t take Gene and me long to figure out that we had a little fertility problem and we decided to do something about it. We decided to limit the size of our family by practicing rhythm. We kept practicing it, but we never got it perfect. To show you how successful this form of birth control can be, after we started practicing it, I only had six more pregnancies.
By that time, we were living in a part of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood which was known as Rabbit Hill. They didn’t call it Rabbit Hill because the Easter Bunny lived there. If you were to look around and observe all those Catholics in all those big old houses, with all those big families, you might assume that nobody was practicing birth control. But you’d be wrong. EVERYBODY was practicing birth control. They just weren’t using any methods that worked.
Few people outside of Capitol Hill ever gave us credit for it, though. As an example of how we were censured by the outside world, one summer we took the whole family on a train trip from Seattle to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At various times, I would escort several of the little persons into the Ladies Room. One afternoon, a young woman was sitting at the mirror combing her hair, and when she saw all those heads coming into view she slowly turned around.
“May I ask”, she inquired disdainfully, “how you happened to acquire all those children?”
Sizing up the girl’s age, I cleverly understood she wasn’t really asking me to summarize the earthy habits of the birds and the bees. I didn’t have time to anyway, because Judy was unwinding a whole roll of toilet paper.
“My, goodness”, I replied. “I am much more interested in figuring out how we have avoided having eight.”
And I was. I mean, by then I was rather fond of the seven we had already brought into the world. As a neighbor of mine once put it, we weren’t exactly down on our knees making novenas for more new babies. But let’s face it, once they get here, they have a big way of worming their way into your affections.
In the meantime, though, during the ten years I was pregnant, I became increasingly alert to alternative methods of birth control.
Here, for the first time, they will be revealed. If birth control has ever been a problem for you, or if you’re a Catholic of the old school, never fear: Octo-woman is here.
There will be no charge for this service. It is extended to you graciously by Octo-woman, herself, who is, as ever, keeping the world safe for democracy.
Here are her tips in list form so it will be handy to tape them onto the refrigerator.
Octo-woman’s BIRTH CONTROL STRATEGIES
1. Try never to go to St. Augustine, Florida, but if you have to, be very careful. Stay away from that ancient shrine to the lady of the nursing milk. Unless you are prepared for what follows, do not go there. You have been warned.
2. Another way to limit the size of your family is to set up housekeeping at a considerable distance from your husband. In the Vatican, perhaps.
3. Convince your husband that you are a man. At the same time, convince yourself, that your husband is an invisible man. It should work.
4. Finally, if all else fails, you might try one other method which was once described this way: This lady went to the doctor — we’ll call him Dr. O’Shaunessey.
“Doctor”, says the lady, “My husband and I keep practicing rhythm but I keep getting pregnant.”
Confused, the lady says, “Well, Doctor, I never heard of using buttermilk. Do I take it before . . . . or after?”
And he replies, “INSTEAD of.”
Well, that’s it. It might be a good idea to memorize these tips so you’ll always be prepared. And, yes, you’re quite welcome. I always enjoy being of service to the world that needs me so badly.
Okay now. The real reason I wanted to sign off on this going-on-80 blob with this topic is because the day we visited that Shrine to the Lady was the best thing that ever happened to us. And that’s the truth.
Here below – in all its disheveled glory – is the last photo ever taken all together of the Ford Horde. I’m always going to wonder how we got so lucky. And since then, we’ve added two sons-in-law – Sean and Joe. This is the treasury Gene and I were given, and we never got over being grateful for it.Before I sign off today, thank you for reading and contributing to the blobs all year. It wouldn’t have been any fun without you.
And thank you, grandson Bryce, for launching and using extortion to make me write in it every day.
If you’re a “subscriber” to the blob, you’ll get emails letting you know if/when I crank out a few more from time to time. Among other topics, I didn’t start doing the birthdays and anniversaries till the end of October and I missed a few more as well, so I’ve got some catch-up to do. And I want to “flesh out” some of the earlier ones, yada, yada, yada.
I might also work on a family tree project, and, if so, and I may be begging you for help. Most of all though I have to face tackling all those dozens of family video tapes I’ve accumulated and failed to edit. (Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus but he has no intention of editing all those videos, givehimabreak.)
So here I go, unbowed, undaunted, and unorganized into my eighth decade. One thing you can count on is that as the years go on, I will certainly continue to apply Octo-woman’s birth control strategies, because I definitely and categorically do not wish to wind up in another labor room.
One can’t be too careful, you know.