Lake View


 On a brisk but sunny September morning in southwest Michigan; my kids and I rode slowly around Crooked Lake in a friend’s boat; waiting for the right moment to say goodbye. My husband of 47 years and their Dad; who’d died unexpectedly the month before, had always wished for his ashes to be sprinkled here. We just had to wait to get the wind right, quiet our voices and thoughts….and prepare ourselves for this final step in letting go.

He grew up on this lake. He and a few buddies stayed in the lake house during their college years. His parents gave us the home when we married. Our kids were born and raised on this lake. We remodeled and enlarged the house; built a new dock and landscaped the yard with new plants and trees. This is where we shared our first kiss…..and where we spent our first ten years together.

Cross-country moves following his career as a newspaper editor never kept us from annual visits ‘home’ to Michigan to visit old neighbors on the lake or to just drive by and say….“hello house.” Over the next 30 some years, it became a ritual to drive by it, take pictures of how it had weathered time and meet up with nearby friends and family.

And so it came as a shock earlier this year to receive an email from an old neighbor from his parents’ days letting us know that the “Stommen House” had been torn down.  Soon after, both of us and our kids started getting texts and calls from pals still living in this lake community; “your lake house is being torn down”… “the Stommen property is being bulldozed!”  Thirty some years after we sold it, it was still thought of as ours by various generations! Seeing the new home under construction from the lake now was okay with us; it looks good.  It was time for something new and modern on this spot.

He swam, sailed, water skied and ice skated on this lake. We hosted beach parties all summer long; the guys playing water football or volleyball while the young ones watched from the shallow, sandy shore. Every winter we shoveled a huge rink to teach our kids how to skate and for dad to play ice and broom hockey with his pals. Our son and daughter learned to swim and ski here; loved sliding down the big hill during the long, snowy months and spent hours playing in the fort daddy built them under the trees.

Now as the boat drifted in the middle of the lake with the breeze, it was time for him to be in the water again; in this blue, fresh water where his story….and ours….began.  Our daughter read a beautiful prayer she’d written; our daughter-in-law and granddaughters hugged me and held my hands as our son opened the pontoon door and lay down on the deck.
 We laughed through our tears as we took turns remembering great times and fun moments with Grandpa….and as the ashes fluttered for his last lake view; we all felt the peace and contentment of knowing we had honored a great man here today.

 

 

 

18 comments:

  1. So touching, Joan. You and your family are so beautiful... inside and out.

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  2. Bittersweet. I am very thankful you have such a close and loving family to share this moment with, and continuing to pray for you all.

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    1. Thanks for your comments and prayers, Cindi.

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  3. I think he is very, very proud of his beautiful family and grateful for the abundance of love he earned from all of you.

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    1. Thanks, Joyce. I like that our love for him shows.

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  4. Thank you, Joan, for sharing this with us. I hope you can feel that it lets each of your readers carry a little bit of the pain for you. Your beautiful words certainly allow us to share the love.

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    1. Thank you, Bob.....for your encouragement to write and share. It is very comforting to read your message and the others!

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  5. So very tender. I can sense that there was plenty of healing energy in this family ceremony. You are blessed even in your pain.

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    1. We gained strength from each other...that's for sure. I think of you often, Olga...and hope you are doing okay. Writing is healing isn't it?

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  6. This just made me cry. Your memories remind me of so many days in Michigan... hugs.

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  7. Thanks, Kc. Michigan has always been "home" ......so it was comforting just being there! I know you love it too!
    Love and good wishes to you and your family for THanksgiving!

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  8. Thanks for sharing this touching story. My husband has always said he wanted his ashes scattered in a favorite place. You explain how that can be healing. My deepest sympathies at such a hard time.

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  9. Thank you so much. If my writing can touch and comfort someone else.......I am appreciative. I never cared for the idea years ago........but glad now that we talked about it.......he was adamant......and it was greatly comforting and healing to honor his wish.

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  10. What a beautiful tribute to a cherished husband, father and grandfather. I love this bittersweet post and your family tie to lake is so familiar. Thanks to our grandparents, my siblings and I spent summers on a lake in Wisconsin. Though we have scattered across the US and Europe as adults, the cabin calls us "home" every summer.

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  11. Your post touched me greatly. You gave me a glimpse into what sounds like an idyllic life and family, one I never had but always wondered about. Before I moved back to the city, I took my husband's ashes and scattered them on our ranch I sold. I put them in all of his favorite places. What a legacy all of you've left for one another and for the community. Such a blessing! Thank you, Brenda

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