This weekend I buried my dad. I will never get to take another trip with him to South Dakota, enjoy his amazing popcorn, or play another game of cards with him. The permanence of his passing leaves me with an extraordinary amount of sadness and regret.
When I was young, he taught me how to fish, bowl, make homemade pizza and care for a garden. We played mini putt, cards (Hand and Foot mostly, which is a card game unknown by anyone under 60 years old I have come to realize), Rummikub, and so many other games. It was rarely a boring day when I spent time with my dad.
On our trip to South Dakota this weekend for his funeral, I also realized how much he went out of the way to make sure I was happy. He stopped at the “Welcome to ____ State” signs so I could take pictures, always stopped at my favorite truck stops for french fries and a chocolate shake, and took me to the Corn Palace every year so I could buy a postcard and see the new design. When my friends were taking trips to Disney World, it didn’t phase me because I thought the Corn Palace was so much more original.
Dad came to visit me every weekend in college when I worked at a restaurant down the street. He often brought in popcorn and sometimes chocolate chip cookies so he was definitely a crowd favorite. I remember one time he brought in a huge tupperware container, the kind that are is made to store clothes to slide under your bed. It was full of popcorn and it was like Christmas for my college roommates.
After college I moved an hour and 15 minutes away so I didn’t make it back to visit as often. I got married and had kids which made it even harder to visit, because, you know, life happens. This is where regret sinks in. I am aware I cannot change anything now, and it may not be healthy to think about the “what ifs” or “could haves”. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting this week and looking at the relationships I do have with people. I hope this will encourage me to make stronger connections and spend time with the people I care about and less time worrying about if the kids will behave or some other excuse.
Dad always called me “Pumpkin”. I miss him so much.