There's a long story behind how I am blessed to share this little piece of heaven on Perry Lake with my brother and sister. It is a bittersweet one, just as my very first stay there was. My Uncle Stan passed away last year and left his house to my brother, sister and I. After the initial shock of this inheritance, I began to really think about what this meant.
At first, I felt extremely grateful. A large chunk of my childhood memories revolve around the summers we spent at camp so this inheritance brought back many nostalgic memories. My parent's owned the adjacent property to my Uncle's house and we had a trailer that we spent most of the summer at. It was right on the water, so every night I was lulled to sleep by the chirping of hundreds of crickets and the deep throaty croak of the bullfrogs in the swamp. My favourite part of the day was waking up in the morning to the haunting song of the pair of loons that nested across the bay, then crawling out of bed and running through the dew laden grass to watch the mist rising off the water. My grandparents lived 3 houses down the road from Stan's place and during my childhood they owned over 100 acres of the surrounding property along the road. My grandfather actually planted the pine trees across the road that towered a few hundred feet in the sky. We used to spend many afternoons exploring the sandpit looking for used shot gun shells or pulling apart milk weed to watch the seeds dance through the sky. Then it was off to Grandma and Grandpa's for homemade biscuits and the most delicious homemade jams I will ever taste. So the one aspect of this inheritance, was a chance for my daughter to experience a handfull of the memories that I cherish so dearly.
However, as is life, the years have brought many changes. My grandfather sold off his property years ago, my grandparents passed away in recent years and their house was also sold. So my Uncle's house is truely the last physical piece that I can hold onto of my family and my childhood memories. The flip side of the coin however, was the financial and emotional burden. I won't go into the details, but in order for us to make this house a cottage, we were all going to have to invest a lot of time, hardwork and heart into it. Over the first year, every weekend we spent working there made the inheritance feel unbearable and almost suffocating. I think a lot of these emotions had to do with the grief of dealing with my Uncle's passing. But there was also a great deal of sadness...as we delved deeper into the cleaning and repairs of his house I began to see Stan for more than who I knew him as. I guess you really get to know a person once you are riffeling through a house filled with their memories.
So all of that leads us to my first weekend at the cottage. I was nervous to spend the weekend there, first because my Uncle passed away in the house and second because my 20 month old daughter does not sleep well away from home. I wasn't sure what to expect...when we arrived, it was peaceful and beautiful. Arabella immediately took to it and loved running around the expansive lawn. She ate a late dinner and went straight to sleep which is unheard of for an overnight stay. But once she was sleeping and it was quiet, it felt sad. Sad because of all the reasons that had lead up to me standing in that kitchen. So I did the only thing I could think of, I poured a glass of wine and we toasted to Stan. The rest of the weekend was amazing! Creating new memories with Arabella, reminscing about the old ones and embracing the present. It was a truely magical experience and now I am so grateful to have been left such a blessing in our lives. Maybe one day, Arabella will bring her children to see the trees that her Great Grandfather planted...