Have you ever taken a trip back to your roots? This is assuming, of course, you live in a different corner of the world than you did in your earliest days. Taking such a trip stirs up wonderfully nostalgic memories, reopens feelings of loss, reminds you of your very temporary status in this world and so much more, at least this was the case for me recently.
Recently Dear Hubby and I made a trek to North Dakota, a trip back to my roots. As you might suspect, my emotions were all over the map.
I was born in North Dakota. I didn’t stay long though. My family and I moved to Minnesota when I was only six weeks old because my dad got a teaching job there. And the rest as they say, is history. Well, it’s my history anyway.
Every summer, my family and I went back to North Dakota for a visit with the grandparents, always my mother’s parents and sometimes my dad’s as well. All four of my grandparents were North Dakotans, children of immigrants. Somehow my grandparents’ parents all had landed in North Dakota many years earlier. Why North Dakota? I have no idea. But then again, why not?
Summer visits to my maternal grandparents’ house were filled with the usual stuff: Fourth of July and birthday celebrations, shopping for school clothes, spending time with aunts and uncles and cousins, long-awaited-for trips to the local swimming pool and Dairy Queen, watching what seemed to me, unlimited TV channels and going to drive-in movies, to name a few. Mostly, my siblings and I enjoyed being doted on by loving grandparents who naturally, saw only our good sides.
Then there were the perhaps more unusual things like road trips to the Canadian border, attempts at pet behavior management (long story) and the always-to-be-counted-on car rides with my siblings and Grandpa to look at Grandpa’s crops.
Grandpa farmed fields all over the county, and showing them all off to us was quite time consuming. At times, we grew bored with the seemingly endless fields that all looked the same to us, but we never let on. At least I hope we didn’t. Often he would stop the car in the middle of the road, pull off into a ditch and drive straight into a field, all the while jostling around his grandchildren who, of course, wore no seat belts. Our eyes would pop open wide as we marveled at the sounds of rocks and overgrown grass scraping underneath his vehicle. Such rides took place not in a pickup but rather in whatever large, impractical sedan he was driving at the time, such as a Lincoln Town Car or Buick Electra. All that scaping and bouncing made us feel quite wild and adventurous.
We knew our parents, but especially Grandma, would not approve of such shenanigans, so we and Grandpa kept our wild-ride secrets to ourselves.
When we were old enough to see over the steering wheel, Grandpa would often turn the driving over to one of us, though of course, we had no license or permit, much less any actual driving skills.
I thought about those childhood excursions and other memories as well as Dear Hubby and I studied plat maps (maps are not my forte, btw), navigated confusing, country roads and found our way to four of those very same fields I used to tour as a child with Grandpa. My siblings and I now each have a parcel of Grandpa’s beloved land. A piece of North Dakota is now mine. Literally.
Grandpa would be so pleased. As am I.
They say a person isn’t really remembered more than two or three generations after dying. I never knew my great grandparents, so I guess this is true, although I did hear stories about them from time to time. Stories help keep families alive. Perhaps this is why I love stories about families so much.
After my siblings, my cousins and I are gone, will my grandparents be remembered by anyone?
And how long will you and I be remembered after we’re gone?
Who knows, but likely in the scheme of things, not that long.
Land, on the other hand, has a permanence to it, a reliability like nothing else. (Unless, of course, we all totally screw up our stewardship of the planet).
These things, along with many others, gave me pause to remember and reflect.
Trips back to your roots tend to have that affect. Family. Memories. Connections. Bonds that last forever. Love. Things that matter most.
My trip to North Dakota, back to my roots, was about more than a road trip, reading maps and finding parcels of land.
It was about dear ones, fond memories and more; it was about these things of the heart.
If you like this post, you might be interested in reading my memoir, Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person: A memoir about cancer as I know it. The three paragraphs in quotation above are from my memoir.
Where were you born and where do you live today?
Have you taken any trips back to your roots?
I would love it if you shared a childhood memory about your grandparents or someone else.
Do you recognize the crop in my photo? (I didn’t either. Answer below.)