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.