My aunt Jeanette and I are on our way to Des Moines, Iowa to visit the land of our fathers (since we are German I will use the paternal). I have not been to Iowa since 5th grade—over 40 years. And Jeanette has not been back since 1969. The cousins have been out to visit California in between and kept up regular Christmas card correspondence with Auntie. So we begin this family adventure. We will go to Des Moines (via Las Vegas on Southwest Airlines). Then visit Decorah, Bondurant, and Stuart.
I am excited to get to know my cousins better and to experience a large family gathering. We are a small nucleus centered in Sonoma County. My mom is an only child and much younger than her cousins and my 2 aunties have small families too.
My dad is missing in action. We do not know his whereabouts in heaven or on earth. So going to Iowa also stirs up a lot of other feelings—some are quite stressful. I know his choices have nothing to do with me and yet I do sometimes feel really pissed off at him for cutting us out of his life. I can say “his loss” and stupid, stupid man for missing out on his terrific grandchildren’s lives, still it does not paper over the hurt.
This trip is about connecting and reclaiming the Positive in Pieper. My cousins are lovely people. I met up with Lori, Annette and Kathy in June at Auntie J’s. I look forward to seeing my cousin David again. He is closest to my age and my brother and I got into mischief with David and Marty when we visited Great Grandma Pieper. I hope to connect with my cousin Mary who took me to my first Quaker meeting.
And there will be pie.