Over past years, The Big Daddy's occupation has required us to go to many Christmas parties. While it may have been fun at the beginning of the month, by the end of the month staying home and watching "It's A Wonderful Life" began to seem far more appealing than getting dressed up again and making small talk.
Except for the big party at the hotel in town where there was a small fire at our table.
I'm not naming names.
This occupation of The BD lives and breathes on the ability to get grants, and one's success and self-esteem hinges on the dollars you bring in. When you hit the jackpot (which has gotten ever so unlikely over the years), it's like winning the Heisman Trophy. We had a string of years where try as he might Mark could not get funding, and it was painful at times to be at some of these parties with others who were having far more success while we struggled with a mediocre base salary and a lab on the verge of shutting down.
It is the nature of the business.
Every request for research money is a crapshoot at best. Years of work and months of writing a grant mailed on a wing and a prayer, can be shot down in a heartbeat and rejection is never easy to get used to, although everybody in his field gets rejected. A lot.
From the perspective of a spouse watching this all these years, it remains a frequent stress. Will he manage to hang on? Will we be able to send the kids to college? What will happen if he doesn't get the next grant, however small it may be?
I am a bystander in this Worry Department, but the people he works with every day, regardless of research dollars, are all rowing the same boat. Hanging on and still committed to finding cures for Parkinson's, diabetes, Lou Gehrig's disease, MS, cancer, AIDS, kidney disease, Lyme disease, Alzheimer's.................
They care so very much about what they do and about each other. The number of parties has been scaled back these last few years and that's o.k., but there are no other people I'd rather haul out my little black party dress for than the biochemistry department.