My friend had the following conversation with her children on the way over to our house this fall.
“You’re going to have so much fun at Mrs. Hummel’s house! Her husband is blowing their leaves into a pile so you can play in them.”
“What should we call Mrs. Hummel’s husband?” – 8 year old
“He’s Mrs. Hummel’s husband, so that would make him… what?”
“Umm… Mr. Leaf Blower?” – 4 year old
Well, that’s Dr. Leaf Blower to you now, kid. That’s right. There is a PhD in the house. We can cross this one off the 30-before-30 list. Aaron defended his dissertation so he’s officially all Philosophized, Doctorized, and formally recognized as being both outlandishly smart AND diligent.
I’m pretty smart, but Aaron is smart in things I can’t wrap my brain around. It took me a few months to memorize his job title. (“Working in a Plant Pathology lab as part of an inter-disciplinary Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology program,” is a mouth full, in my defense.) And when I think about this PhD and the hard work it took to get here, I’m so grateful for Aaron’s work ethic and his courage in risky situations. This man has been perpetually stressed for about 10 years. I know this man started off this adventure five years ago by putting overtime beyond overtime in to ensure that his presence was a blessing to his lab mates, aware that his work would communicate to others that Christianity is supposed to make you a better scientist, not the opposite. In the first part of grad school he was still in the military, and this man would spend four or five days almost without sleeping when he had Drill weekends, and then get to the lab even earlier as soon as he got home. This man sat on the couch and read papers instead of attending sports games. (Breaks were more frequent in hockey season after we had a TV, of course.) This man never complained about the inconveniences of our tightwad budget, like eating sandwiches and leftovers for lunch every day, and using an old cell phone that barely texts – forget 3G network access! This man was cheerful about the added financial risk of my self-employment so we could both live out the dreams God gave us. This man who loves the outdoors spent many a beautiful weekend day (sometimes both of them) working on his projects in the lab. He has spent most of the last five years in a white room without windows, and hasn’t really even had coworkers to share the days with for quite a while. This man dutifully tackled many of his highest pressure assignments in the seasons where I have been most grief-stricken and needy instead of the encourager I wanted him to have, because grad school doesn’t wonder what would be most convenient for your personal life when setting up experiment deadlines.This man has been diligent even when he was definitely thinking things like this:
[From #whatshouldwecallgradschool, which is not appropriate reading for minors or grandmothers, but is fall-on-the-floor hilarious to those who are in graduate school.]
I can’t say exactly where the credit goes for this successful presentation and defense of the dissertation. Was it the slave labor he has accomplished in the last five years at the laboratory bench? The good reputation of his peer-reviewed publications? The prayer warriors who have been lifting him up, especially during this last big push to wrap up everything? The decadent cheese trays I prepared as refreshments for his committee of judges? Some combination of all those, I bet.
After a great presentation and record-making short deliberations from his committee, we ate dinner out in a state of ecstasy before he came home and watched The Hobbit trailer several times over in a manner befitting his accomplishments.
Then the sense of romance and adventure wore off, and we got back into courageously tackling all the other risky situations in life, because that’s what diligent people do.