Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dead Babies: A Brucker Family Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving with my family went smoothly for the most part. Our last evening out included seeing the new James Bond and going to Hibachi. The trip to Hibachi looked as if it was going to be a disaster. The waitress brought my father cold saki. When she finally warmed it up, the grill man, an Asian by the name of Charlie, began to do his magic. My dad, ever the germophobe remarked, "Could you clean that grill a little more over there?" My brother Wendell and I exchanged a glance. My Pops did not. But yes he did. Charlie however was a good sport. As the warm saki eased into my father's system he became jovial. During the course of having dinner cooked in the middle of the table Charlie was squirting saki into the mouths of the patrons. My dad was eager, so eager that he took a squirt for almost a minute. My dad became Charlie's biggest fan. He gave the saki chef a standing O and then a nice monetary reward. Age has changed my dad for the better. He votes Democrat, goes to Springsteen concerts, and even supports my dreams as an artist. Not to mention he is a college professor, loves his students, and his students love him in return. He talks about the young people making it the right way. Back in the day he voted Republican, hated Springsteen, and told me to "get a real job." I got my Pops one of my books too. He loves it so far. The man has changed for the better in sixty years.

So has my brother Wendell. At the Hibachi Wendell sat next to his wife Veronique. They shared sushi and kisses. As they have aged they have calmed down, but when they first started dating it was bizarre. In  high school Wendell had been a football player, a shot putter, and a power lifter and had been a champion at all three. In college he had been captain of his football team. His favorite movies were anything with violence. Now it is whatever his wife likes. They still watch violent movies but she falls asleep and magically wakes up when they put a chick flick on. Wendell is finishing medical school with an MD/PhD and is currently working with transgendered kids at a free clinic in his town. He likes the work and is good with this population. Wendell treats them medically but also treats them like people, something the world fails to do. I was impressed by my brother. He has come a long way. Much like my father, in his thirty years he has changed for the better.

Some things, however, never change.

Once every holiday Wendell and my father have their mandatory fight. Usually it is because my brother Wendell says something and my father gets on a soapbox and won't back down. Instead of just letting it die Wendell keeps the issue alive, but my father is on his soapbox and must be heard and Wendell must fire back. There is screaming and yelling and usually awkward stares muffled with silent laughter from my mother, sister Skipper, and his wife Veronique. Happy holidays. This year was no different.

My sister in law Veronique was talking to her brother Pierre who is currently a medical resident. Pierre had lost a patient and was taking it hard. Veronique knew about loss because she is a child cancer specialist and occasionally loses young patients herself. Loss and death are hard. I have been to many a funeral where the person in the casket left a good looking corpse and it isn't easy on anyone. Wendell filled us in and said it was best not to ask. Skipper would have agreed except she was not in the mood to talk. She was doing what she was doing best, sleeping. This was after of course she put the DVD of Cowboy Del Amour: The Ivan Thompson Story in the player.

The fight then started. This is how the exchange went:

Wendell: Well Dad, Pierre is taking the loss of the patient hard. Veronique knows. They lost a baby at her clinic. So it's probably best not to bring it up when she comes downstairs.

Dad: I work in law enforcement with the prosecutor. Parents get upset when they lose children. The law gets involved because we have to. But babies die all the time.

Wendell: I know, and a baby died at her clinic.

Dad: Babies die all the time.

Wendell: Dad, that's not the point.

Dad: Babies die all the time.

Wendell: Dad-

Dad: Babies die all the time!

Wendell: That doesn't make it right.

Dad: I work in law enforcement. I see it quite a bit. Babies die all the time!

Wendell: That doesn't make it right!

Dad: Babies die! Babies die!

Wendell: I know babies die but it's not okay to have babies die!

Dad: Well babies die all the time! Babies die!

Now those two are arguing and it is getting awkward. Skipper has awoken to witness the fight. Ivan Thompson is on screen with some hopeless soul. My mother is just letting this roll possibly for her own amusement. I am trying not to laugh because they are just going back and fourth. It is the Scorpio father on a soapbox and the Gemini child who just won't get it. Finally I have had enough.

Me: Hey guys, see Ivan Thompson on the screen? He is fixing people up so that they can make living, healthy babies.

My father and Wendell still are not hearing me.

Wendell: Dad, you arent getting it.

Dad: You arent getting it. Babies die.

Me: Guys, look at all the living, healthy people who want to find love on the screen in this documentary. Much like us they were once healthy babies who grew into healthy adults.

Wendell is starting to defuse. There is hope. My father is on a roll though.

Dad: Babies die.

Me: Dad, one more word and that will be on the menu for Christmas.

My dad has finally gotten it. We all begin to watch Ivan Thompson try to find a bride for some reject in Mexico. The man has paid ten thousand dollars. My father and brother have shifted their focus on making fun of this man. We are a happy family once again.

But seriously, I am putting dead babies on the Christmas menu. They go quite well with stuffing and gravy.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Available on Amazon

Come to my signing
DEember 27, 2012 @ 7pm
Bethel Park Library
5100 W. Library Ave
Bethel Park, PA

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