Traveling Backwards

Tomorrow morning I will board a plane.  I will be gone for four days and three nights.  My destination and what I find there will make me cry, bring me joy, and give me great cause for reflection.  I am scared and nervous.  The trip has been planned for months but I have pushed all thoughts of it away until the last possible moments.

Tomorrow morning I will board a plane to South Dakota.  I will be gone for four days and three nights.  I will be staying with my Aunt and Uncle whom I have met only once in my adulthood, although several times as a child.  My Uncle, my dad’s brother and the youngest of the six siblings, has graciously offered to drive me around, to give me a tour of the farmlands, the farmhouses, the old school – places where my dad came long before me.  South Dakota is not a place where I have strong memories of my dad. This trip will be more about collecting information of his past and about forming new bonds with distant family.

Tomorrow I will be in the same South Dakota my dad breathed in, lived in, farmed in.  I will revisit places of which I have only the vaguest of memories.  I was ten the summer between fourth and fifth grade the last time my dad and I took a trip to South Dakota to visit his family.  We made the rounds, saw the sights that were relevant to our family, if to no one else.  I have an image of an old field, ruts from wagon wheels gone by so many years past, still there at the edge of the land.  We peeked into falling down wooden buildings outside town, a house where one of his sisters was born, another where he went to school.  We drove and I looked out the car window at all that open space.

Tomorrow morning…

I am the type of person who will collect a small fistful of the fragrant brown soil, bring it home with me.  I am the type of person who will find herself standing on the tired front porch of a stranger, a front porch my dad climbed up and down a thousand times as a young boy, choking out the words, pleading for a moment of time to stand alone by the door looking in, looking out.  I am the type of person who will look like I am holding it all together when inside I am anything but.  My poor Uncle has no idea what he is in for.  He has no children of his own and I don’t think he has much practice comforting thirty-something year old women.

It has been six month since my dad died.  It is getting easier, but on some days it is hard.  Tomorrow will be one of the hard days.

*I will be unplugged for a while, I don’t know for how long, but I will be back.

About Shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
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19 Responses to Traveling Backwards

  1. with you. What an important trip. You will be so glad you did it.

  2. dbdaze says:

    My thoughts are with you.

  3. I hope the trip is both meaningful and comforting.

  4. judysp says:

    It will be wonderful to connect with your father and his family. To be able to share their memories of him. I wish you joy on your journey 🙂

  5. Kelly says:

    Love and light in your journey.

  6. I LOVE that you’re doing this. I think that yes it may be hard but you will be very blessed by all of this as well. This would be the kind of trip I would LOVE to take.Yes it’s hard but you will come away with amazing memories.

  7. Randy Palmer says:

    It has been 4 1/2 years since my dad passed away. The hard days still come but they are more spread out. And they aren’t as hard.

    Four months ago I made a trip to the town where my dad grew up. The last time I went there was 2001, to accompany my dad on what turned out to be his last trip to his boyhood home. The reason for this most recent trip was to take my mom for the funeral of one of my dads best friends.

    At the last minute, I decided to take my teenage son with me…he had had a good bond with my dad and carries my dads name. There were floods of memories and floods of emotion, and for the first time in my life I had to stay in a hotel in that city. It was an experience that was very different from every other visit to New Mexico. But what made it easier, and in some ways more enjoyable, was that I was opening my sons eyes to family history that he had never seen or heard.

    You will have that opportunity some day to, and this trip will help give you the foundation to share your father with your sons when they need new memories.

    Enjoy this trip. Accept every emotion you feel. This is life being experienced. Isn’t it great?

    • shoes says:

      Thank you for your comment and sharing those memories with me.

      During my visit I kept thinking of how someday I would love to take this same trip with my husband and our two boys. I gained a lot of knowledge about our family history, took pictures and wrote the stories down. I think just the experience of going to some place vastly different from where we live (the plains of SD are beautiful and so different from the Pacific Northwest) as well as having the land soaked in family history would make the trip so worthwhile.

  8. hope this brings you close to your Dad again — so hard losing parents — my heart goes with you

  9. mimijk says:

    Travel safe and savor every moment. As time allows, the ache finds its place in your heart, so that you know where to go when you need to feel it and are able to put it back when you’re done. It never leaves. In these travels I hope your uncle shares some happy stories too – so you can feel some of the joy that your dad had as a child himself. I’ll be thinking of you while you’re gone. And know that you’re traveling with much love..m

  10. muddledmom says:

    Sounds like an awesome and much-needed trip. Happy for you for getting to take it.

  11. JWo says:

    Another amazing and well written piece that brought tears to my eyes. I hope it brings you closer to your Dad and your heals your heart.

  12. Jodi Stone says:

    Reminds me of “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert. I’ve driven by my old house and looked up at it but never had the moxie to stop and ask. 😦

    It will be a lovely trip and I bet you get what you need. You are very brave and very strong. I’ll be thinking of you.

  13. I hope the trip brings you peace, comfort, and joy! Safe travels!

  14. Mary Ann says:

    I hope you will have wonderful experiences on your trip. It will be great to see where your Dad spent a lot of his time.

    I lost my Dad almost nine years ago now, and it’s still hard to talk about him. My thoughts are with you!

  15. Hetterbell says:

    No doubt it will be a trip full of mixed emotions, but I don’t think you will ever regret making it. I think you will be very pleased to have done so, whatever reactions it awakens in you at the time. Best wishes.

  16. Yoga Mama says:

    you are always so brave. thanks for sharing. i wish you comfort, peace, and patience as you walk your path.

  17. Hope the trip went well and that it helped you get some closure, or at least some peace.

  18. You are such a sweet and thoughtful blogger, writer, person. I know you have returned from this trip now, and I hope you found even a small sense of peace in the process.

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