I’m not surprised when, during the holidays, songs that remind me of deceased family members trigger an emotional response.

One minute I’ll be driving down the highway singing merrily along with a song on the radio, and the next minute I’ll be wiping away tears which have been triggered by a memory wrought by the song.

Because I had been out of the newspaper business for a few years, I forgot that farm meeting season also can set off emotional landmines. I was reminded of the effect that going to meetings can have on me when I attended one last week.

As I was sitting there taking notes, surrounded by a few hundred farmers, and listening to speakers talk about weed control, tillage and other farm topics, memories of all the times I had joined my farmer-brother Rich, and farmer-father Adrian at meetings earlier in my journalism career came flooding back. I recalled sitting between the two of them and whispering questions to them when I didn’t understand something the speaker said, and then talking to them more in depth afterwards.

As memories often do, recalling those led to others, which led to still more. Recollections of the farm meetings brought to mind how Rich and my dad not only were reliable sources who helped clarify farm speak I didn’t understand, but also gave me story ideas.

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My dad, knowing that I couldn’t use him as a source in the story, would, in all seriousness tell me “You can just say a farmer from Arvilla.” I always laughed inwardly at that because it never occurred to him that it would be pretty obvious to people that a farmer in Arvilla, N.D., with the same last name as mine would be my dad.

As memories often do, ones like that, which amused me at the time, cut to my heart when I was at the farm meeting this week. For the millionth time, I wished my dad and Rich were still here so I could talk to them.

Listening to the speakers at the meeting discussing dealing with waterlogged fields started my mind on another train of thought, about the water table at our farm that is only a few feet below the cover of the sand point well we use to water the horses. Thoughts of the well then reminded me of how, now that my dad is deceased, there’s no one to ask about how to fix the well when it has a glitch.

That, by far, is not the first time I’ve thought “I wish I would have asked Dad …”

My Christian faith tells me that I will see my dad, Rich, and my mom, when my earthly journey is finished. If I am able to ask the many unanswered questions that I’ve been saving up since I last saw them, I’ll do that.

For now, while I’m comforted believing that they’re happy beyond my mortal understanding, I fiercely miss them. Though Rich has been gone nearly 27 years, my dad, 23 years and my mom, eight years, sometimes the emotional pain is as raw as it was the day they died.

I know, though, that those emotions will subside, just as they always have before -- until they’re triggered by someone, something or somewhere. That’s OK, though, because it is a testimony to how much my mom and dad and Rich meant to me. What we love the most when with us, is what we miss and hurts us the most when gone.