Tuesday, December 24 2019

sons, grandparents, and pictures



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! And happy Christmas Eve. This morning I’m coming to you from my mother’s kitchen. I’m slowly waking up, clinging to a cup of coffee. It felt great to sleep in, but at this point I think I’m just trying to work through the grogginess. Sip.

Yesterday was a full, wonderful day. We had an early morning doctor’s appointment to check on new baby. The nurse casually performed an ultrasound, and upon zooming the computer screen in on a prominent penis and pair of testicles, announced, “It’s a boy.” Marissa and I sleepily smiled at each other. The nurse turned to Rodney, who was quietly playing with his trucks in a chair. “Do you want a baby brother?” She asked.

“No,” Rodney said absently. “Rodney don’t want a brother.” We all had a good laugh. If you had asked me what my preferences were that morning, I would have said I wanted a girl - perhaps feeling some kind of responsibility to diversify our household, but upon hearing the diagnosis, I felt relieved. “Boys are easy, and familiar,” Marissa reflected Marissa as we made our way out to the parking lot. I agreed. At any rate, now we can just outright say this - expect Miles Dirk Recker sometime in May.

After the appointment, we skirted home and packed the car. Luckily, the anatomy scan went a little more quickly than expected, so we had some time to tidy up the house before hitting the road.

We arrived in Geneva in the afternoon, then after setting up the dogs in the basement, promptly jumped back in my parents’ car, heading to Munster. Our first stop was Rodney’s Great Grandpa Fred. The rest of our family met up in the lobby of his assisted living home, then, as my mother described it, we “descended on his room like a whirlwind.” A loving whirlwind, at that. Rodney and his cousins played with toys on the floor while we all took turns chatting with Grandpa. And the Recker sons got to take another “four generations” picture - Rodney, me, my dad, and great grandpa Fred.

As we chatted, Marissa pulled some pictures off the shelf and asked grandpa about it. He had a black and white picture of he and his first wife in a car. “That was my girlfriend,” he said looking at the picture.

We said our goodbye’s, then hit the road again, this time to Crete Illinois. After five minutes of driving, my dad announced, “we just crossed the Illinois border.” My parents and extended family grew up on the Illinois/Indiana border, and they still knew all the sights. My parents pointed out their favorite diner, and the butcher where my dad used to work.

We stopped off to pick up an Aurelio’s pizza, and witch the beautiful scent of cheddar, sausage, and sweet red sauce filling the car, drove a little further to Crete Illinois where my grandma resides. We parked, headed in, and after setting up all the kids in the kitchen, we moved to the dining room where we chatted over pizza.

My grandma told stories about grandpa, some of them I had never heard before. I knew my grandpa was in the Netherlands when the Nazis invaded, but I didn’t know the details. “He was taken and forced to cook for them on a boat,” she explained. “And he had a big trench coat - his Nazi uniform, and he said he used to only put half the meat into the soup that he was supposed to, and he’d just put it in his trench coat,” she continued. “And when he’d get home late at night, he’d wake up his family and his trench coat would be lined with sausages, butter, and bread,” she laughed. “The Nazis would have shot him if they ever found out.”

My grandma went on to talk about how he spoke both Dutch and “low class Dutch,” as she put it. “People used to make fun of all the words I said,” she explained. “And Pa would get so embarassed.” While talking about Dutch, I let it slip that I had been trying to learn on my own over the past year, and to my grandma’s delight, we exchanged some Dutch words. “See, that’s high class Dutch!” she exclaimed. “You speak better Dutch than I do.” Don’t get me wrong, I would still like to learn low class Dutch. There’s no point learning another people’s language if you can’t speak to the real people.

After an evening laughing and eating with my Grandma, we head home for the night. I shared a drink with my parents before they went to bed, and Marissa and I rummaged through old photos in the basement. Seeing pictures of my dad in his twenties, our shared resemblance shocked me. “You are the spitting image of your dad,” is yet another cliche that gains more meaning over time. Honestly, if he was wearing a hoodie or something, you could have fooled me and told me that was a picture of me in college, and I’d believe you without giving it a second look.

So yesterday was a whirwind of family, memories, and nostalgia. I loved hearing the stories of my family - both stories I’ve heard before, and new ones that I had somehow missed. And spending the day talking to both my living grandparents on both sides of the family on the same day we found out we were having another son was an interesting pairing. It made me think about my name, my family, and the possibility that someday Miles and Rodney will be rummaging through a box of photos marveling at how similar we looked.

As for this morning, after wrapping up this entry, I’m going to move on to making breakfast for the family. The workstation is primed and ready to crank out Dutch babies until we’re all satisfied.

Hope you all have a wonderful day today. Tell stories, eat breakfast, and take it easy.