Tag Archives: lucky that way

To where my mind wanders…

15 Jul

Lately the same quote seems to be jumping out at me on all my social media. It wasn’t a quote I was familiar with but just the same it struck a chord with me. It goes something like ” To find your true love, all you have to do is watch where your mind goes when it wanders.” This would be hard for me normally because my mind is constantly wandering and imagining. But this summer there has been something that keeps dragging my attention back to it. It is a large empty space. Here is who used to fill my summer days.

This is my Grandma driving the boat at our family’s lake house. And I am the little girl on her lap. My face is most likely that way because she tooted the horn. The horn on the boat was a quick blaring honk. Kind of like putting a Canadian goose in front of a microphone and then stomping on it once really hard. It was so loud it literally made your heart skip a beat if you were sitting in front of it when it was honked. I hated that horn! I was so lucky. I spent 30 years of summers on the lake with my family. When I was really little it was just me and my grandparents because I was the only grandchild for a little while. I was lucky that way too because I remember things that my younger cousins might not. And then as my aunts and uncles got married and had kids, we had wild summers. I mean squeezing 30 or 40 people into a one story house with only one bathroom was an adventure in itself. But now imagine half of those being kids under 12, you get the idea of the fun we had. And we had boat rides and swimming and diving contests and amazing fireworks displays put on by my youngest uncle Mike on the Fourth of July. And acres and acres of s’mores. And mountains of food and soda pop. During those years the only time I had alone with my Grandma was the very early morning before everyone else woke up. Of all those kids and adults, Grandma was always up first. Starting the coffee and melting the grease in the frying pan for scrambled eggs for 20 kids. I would wake up and tiptoe over the carpet of sleeping bodies in the living room.  I would get to take Grandpa his coffee as he rocked in his chair on the porch. He always got the first rocking chair in the row and then Grandma got the second and then I got the third. But usually Grandma would sit me in her chair with a tiny kid sized cup of OJ so she could go back to making breakfast without me underfoot. And I would rock and babble non-stop at my Grandpa. To me he was a really good listener but I am sure he just learned to tune out little kid babble. But he was a man of few words with me and I loved him for it. Then people would start waking up and eating. And after that it was a matter of whining until we could go swimming.

As a teenager things changed a bit. My Grandpa had his first stroke when I was 11. And he continued to have them. At home and at the lake my Grandma was his constant nurse with the help of my Uncle Mike. But my Grandpa loved the lake so it was very important to my Grandma that he get to keep going there. Unfortunately our lake house is as handicapped friendly as Mount Everest. That fact also became very apparent as my own brother was paralyzed and put into a wheelchair permanently. But the lake was my sanctuary. And I continued to wake up when I heard Grandma get up. But I would now take my slightly bigger cup of OJ and go out to the swing. We had an amazing swing anchored between two huge trees. It was a porch swing and when you sat in it you had an amazing view of the better part of the lake. And I would write sometimes creatively, sometimes personally. And I would enjoy the silvery water of the lake and the cool morning breeze blowing through the trees. I felt so completely safe. It recharged my batteries to go back and face a high school life I was unhappy with. With my brother getting sick and my family struggling with that and so much more, I needed a sanctuary. The lake was my perfect place. In my whole life I only ever brought 3 people there and shared my experience with them. But none of them understood why the lake healed me the way it did.

And as I got older my relationship with my Grandma changed again. After my Grandpa passed away, my Grandma said she liked going to the lake because it was his favorite place and it made her feel close to him. And honestly I think it was because my Grandma and I had the same schedule. I wasn’t in school or working so I could go with her during the week to the lake. We would go to clean and plant the garden. She would fill up her car with clean towels, blankets, and sheets. I would pack a backpack and we would just go. It was great. We had so many great conversations on the hour or so drive down. She was really wanting to understand the problems I was having. And she would show me how to make a bed “the right way”. Although to this day I don’t make my bed. She would teach me all about gardening. And I was excited to learn. There was this little hardware store with a little greenhouse attached on the way to the lake house. We would stop there and pick out tons and tons of little flower plants. And we would plant all the pots and flower beds in all different flowers and colors. Or we would clean the huge windows on the porch. It was hot work but once you were done you felt like you had really done something. Then Grandma would take a drink down to the dock and I would go for a swim. We would watch the boats go by, having their last bit of fun before the light went on at the beach. It meant you couldn’t drive your boat fast anymore for the night. We would go in after that. Grandma would cook dinner and we would watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy while we ate. She was always better at the Wheel but I was always better at Jeopardy. Then she would rock in her chair on the porch, never Grandpa’s, until she was tired. I would read until I was sleepy. We would go for three or four days in a row. And I really started to enjoy those trips.

My Grandma sold the lake house a few years ago and it broke my heart. Or so I thought. My Grandma passed away last year. I knew real heart-break then. I know it still. She was the biggest part of my sanctuary. And this summer whether I am gardening or writing or cleaning around the house, she is where my mind wanders to. Or rather the empty hole in my life where she used to be.

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