Summers at the Lake: A Tribute to my Childhood
Years ago, before I knew fear, I spent weeks out of the summer jumping off the diving board of my grandparents lake house dock — my feet leading me deeper into murky, cool water as the mandatory life-preserver always shot me back to the surface. I rarely came without a friend, and nearly every day held the same agenda: Lucky Charms to start the day, then pestering Pop Pop earlier and earlier for that first boat ride of the morning. If I was feeling brave, I’d bring the skis along while the water sat still like glass because we were the only ones out. But my personal favorite was the banana yellow, over-inflated inner-tube I would hang onto for dear life as I signaled for Pop Pop to go faster with a thumbs up.
The days would often unfold in patterns, like the quilts in Nana’s closet. We’d oscillate between feasting on Nana’s homemade meals, resting, and going out on the boat until the sunset ended the cycle. On a couple of occasions during my mildly rebellious teenage phase, a friend and I would sneak down to the dock after lights went out and take a dip just long enough to say we did.
The older I got, the more aware I became of how murky and mysteriously unsettling the water was and began spending more time around the kitchen table, catching my grandparents up on our lives and playing card games. When friends came along, we traded life jackets and fishing poles for guitars and late nights around the fire place.
By the time Cyrus was born, a three year drought had rendered the boat unfit to leave the dock and my grandpa made the difficult decision to sell it. It was hard for me to understand at the time because I so badly wanted to bring my future children into those magical pieces of my childhood.
I realized that it wasn’t the past I was mourning, but the future.
A few years and many trips to the lake with Cyrus later, my Nana and Pop Pop informed us of their plans to sell the lake house and find a home more suitable and closer to their community of friends. My heart broke silently at the news because I felt like one more chapter of my childhood that I’d carried with me like an old photo in a locket had finally ended.
Last weekend, our family took perhaps our last big trip to the lake house that holds so many memories for me. This being just a couple months after finding out I am pregnant with another boy. While wrestling with the unquenchable sadness eating away at me, I realized that it wasn’t the past I was mourning, but the future. I’d come to terms with the fact that my children wouldn’t carry the same memories as me on that little boat, hair flailing violently in the wind; but I’d hoped to share other moments there with them, ones that shaped me in big ways growing up. Moments I wasn’t quite ready to let go of. But then I realized something. Those memories were never meant for them. They were my stories to live out. The preciousness of certain memories and seasons captures just that. They exist to be retold, but the sacredness in them is that they can never be relived.
As for my kids, they will certainly have their own stories to tell their children one day. Stories reserved just for them. I can already sense the tugging on my parents hearts to live up to the wonderful legacy my grandparents continue to leave for us. As new generations are birthed, the hierarchy moves down the line, and our roles begin to shift. I’ve never been very good at letting go of moments, but I am so deeply thankful to have the opportunity to create new ones for my own children. It’s crazy to think that the “good old days” for my kids have still yet to come. And that is a wildly hopeful concept for me.