Friday, April 11, 2008

So I was sobbing

CJ and Sharon are really doing it: They're tearing down the old lake cottage and building new. We are all really excited and can't wait until it's done. It will be year-round now, and will have lots of room for lots of people. They've been talking about it and planning for it for months now and we're all so looking forward to it. It will be great.

So I was a little surprised to find myself sobbing the other night as I looked through the pictures Sharon sent of the place now that they've cleared everything out for demolition. It's a sad little thing, tired and literally decaying from some 40 years of use. My dad built it -- almost everything, except the block, he did himself. It is small (funny how it never seemed all that small when I was a kid) and we outgrew it forever ago. There was no air conditioner, no washer or dryer, and for the longest time no phone. It smelled "lakey" and was definitely not immune to bugs. In the last few years, to be perfectly honest, it was a lot of work just to be there.

But oh my gosh -- I cried and cried as I looked at those pictures. She wasn't in the photos but I could see Mom standing behind the island in the kitchen, putting out food for whatever crowd happened to be there that day and filling newcomers in on the house rules: she would show you where everything was, but after that you were on your own -- and no wet bathing suits on the sofa! I could see Dad sitting at the picnic table reading the Sunday paper early in the morning before the boats started up and it was so quiet you could hear every squirrel on the roof and every woodpecker in the cove.

They were both so proud of the place and loved sharing it with everybody -- literally, everybody. It didn't matter if they had known you for 5 minutes or 50 years, you were welcome to enjoy everything the lake had to offer. Mom would keep you well fed and supplied with dry towels (and don't forget to hang them up, because she wasn't doing it for you!) and Dad would pull you behind the boat for an hour if that's what it took to get you up on skis. No screaming allowed and kids had to wear life jackets. That was about it. All you were asked to do was have a good time.

I can't tell you how many weeks, or more likely months, I spent down there with Mom. We all but lived there in the summer. I don't remember what all we did, but I remember I hated coming home. We practically had the whole lake to ourselves -- and I had Mom all to myself, too. Some of my best memories of her are from summers at the lake. I'd love to do that with Sara some day, too. (Some day.)

So yes, I was sobbing. I'm sure I will again. Part of me wants to go down there, one more time, just to say goodbye to the place: smell the lakey smell, stand behind the island and look out at the lake like Mom did, sit at the picnic table some quiet early morning like Dad and just listen and remember. But I won't. I don't need to -- I'm doing it right now. Kind of like everything else with Mom and Dad, the blessing and the curse is that I'll never get to see them again, but I meet with them all the time in my memory.

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