Making memories with Uncle Fester.


“Wake up! It bloomed, and the conservatory opens in 12 minutes!” These are the words that every soundly sleeping husband longs to hear first thing in the morning.

There’s this flower you see. One of the rarest flowers ever. The corpse flower, named for the putrid stench it emits during the 48 hours that it blooms. After those two days it promptly dies, and the real kicker? It only blooms about once every 6 to 10 years. Yes, you read that right.

It is a scene almost taken directly out of Dennis the Menace… you remember that part when poor Mr. Wilson waits for so long to see his sacred flower bloom? And at the last second Dennis yells and distracts him with, “Mr. Wilson, you’ve been robbed!”

Poor Mr. Wilson, literally and figuratively robbed at the same time.

So with this memory burned into my mind, I dressed the kids, slathered honey on some toast and we ran out the door to go and make a new memory.

Local corpse flower enthusiasts voted that this particular corpse flower should be named Uncle Fester, and after a whole day of talking about him, he really feels part of the family.

He was only 11 inches tall a few months ago, and he had a 5 foot growth spurt just recently. 5 feet. Do you have any idea how many bowls of cereal and chicken sandwiches it would require for a 5 foot human growth spurt? This hefty creation of a plant truly is remarkable.

We arrived at the conservatory shortly after 7 am and we then stood in a long line with a whole pile of people who shared our eagerness. However, they were weighed down with fancy cameras and step ladders to achieve optimal pictures that would then join the other trillion posted on twitter today. #corpseflower #wegetitalready

Memory making in a lineup with a toddler and three energetic other boys is exciting. It’s a lot of interesting spousal communication including, “This guy has to go to the bathroom? OK, you’ve got the other three?”

It’s also a lot of “Please don’t climb on that, you’re making everybody in the line-up who has nothing else to do but stare at you right now judge our parenting, and they also are concerned for the skin on your knees as you test your parkour skills on the side of that ledge…”

It’s a lot of granola bar distribution and “No!” followed by “No thank you!” in response to a toddler who has recently found his strong will. But it’s also a lot of anticipation, which fuels my very existence.


The line wrapped around and around. We saw macaws and fish, rare jungle birds and crazy plants, and we took photos of Mr. Lego Ninjago guy in a variety of plant settings, because that’s what you like to do when you’re 8 years old.


And then suddenly there it was in all its stench, which was far less than every diaper I have ever changed, and every wet sock I have ever found stuffed in a corner. We savoured the moment, snapped a few pictures, and then our son said…

“Is that it? Can we go home now?!”

Turns out he wasn’t as excited about it as I was. Don’t worry though, my sails were still windy. We belly laughed and bought a magnet at the gift shop and precariously walked the edges of the water fountains all the way back to our car.

We know the waiting in line struggle part will fade quickly with time, and we also know our early morning with Uncle Fester will join the family vault of the “Remember that time we went and did…”

Purposeful memory making, one blooming corpse flower at a time.

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