There is something special about FAMILY.
I spent 25 years living away from my family. Not because I wanted to be away, it just kind of happened. I moved to Boston at the age of 22 with 3 close friends from college. My plan was to stay for 1 year and then do something different. I had an amazing year and I found a job I liked, friends I loved and important relationships along the way.
Then I blinked and it was no longer 1988 but 2013 and I wasn’t 22 I was 47! How does that happen?
Spending a couple of weeks a year with Mother Fran was no longer enough. She was now in her 80’s and I wanted to maximize my time with her. I missed my siblings and had great nieces and nephews I had never met. We don’t all live in Upstate NY but over the course of the summer many family members come visit Mother Fran and the lake. I missed the cottage and lake life.
In 2013, I took 2 months off from work and spent them at the cottage with Mother Fran. In April of 2014, I moved back to Upstate, NY and spent 6 months at the lake. Now I live 1 hour away from Mother Fran and Child #7 for ½ of the year. I live 30 minutes from Number 9 and five minutes from #1. Overall I have increased the amount of time I spend with family dramatically and it is wonderful.
This summer, there has been a big blast of family time at the cottage! Child #2 and her husband stayed for a week. Then Child #3 with 2 of her grown children plus a spouse and 2 dogs rented a cottage nearby. While they were at their rental cottage, Child #2 returned with her husband and 2 of her granddaughters.
Then my nephew came (Child #4’s boy) with his wife and 2 little boys. His twin sister joined him and we had another week of family time.
It goes without saying that when my family gathers there will be good food, yummy sangria filled with fruit, card games and lots of lake time. The last month of family visits was no exception!
I work with the elderly and don’t have a lot of opportunity to spend time with kids. Over the last few weeks I made up for a lot of lost time! I jumped repeatedly into the lake with 2 great-nieces. We would each plan a different jump to maximize our ability to splash those sitting on the dock. My favorite was when the 9-year-old yelled out “I’m a lake girl” as she ran and jumped in attempting to make a big splash! We share a fascination with tiny houses and talked about loft beds and composting toilets!
I spent time with my great-nephews swimming in the lake, spinning them around in the air and taking pictures. I swam with my nieces dog and spent time catching up with all.
When visiting the cottage and Mother Fran the next generation learned new card games and all seem to show promise of carrying on the love of games that flows through our family. They all loved the water, swimming and jumping fearlessly into the lake. I feel confident in saying they will all develop a love of the lake and the cottage which help to strengthen our family bond.
Watching Mother Fran open her arms and her 2 1/2-year-old great-grandson run into them for a hug brought tears to my eyes (Ok so I am a softie). Talking to my nieces and nephews about a new girlfriend, a job loss, an upcoming move and a baby on the way. Spending time with my siblings husking corn, catching some sun, chatting about life – all priceless.
Mother Fran and her children share a love of the lake, the cottage and card games. These 3 things help draw us together and strengthen our family bond. She has 15 Grandchildren and 21 Great Grandchildren and the bond grows stronger with family time at the lake!
It occurred to me that time passes and our roles change. When my dad first built the raft, I was the little kid jumping in over and over again. Then I was the Aunt, watching over my nieces and nephews as they learned to swim and play in the water. Now I am the Great Aunt, watching the next generation of Lake Girls and Boys enjoy the cottage and the lake; closely watched over by their parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles.
Some day I will be the 80 something year old, opening up my arms for a great big hug from a member of a future generation!
I wouldn’t want it any other way!