We recently helped my mom box up shelves of books cleaning out a room in the house I grew up in. Anytime we do something like this it turns into a walk down memory lane.
From the pictures used as bookmarks to the cookbooks of my childhood and a sermon from my dad that very well may have been his last; there were many hidden treasures found.
Amidst the momentos from my childhood I found some things that didn’t quite fit. There were stacks of magazines and pamphlets and books on log cabins. They were dog eared, sticky noted and marked in the margins with my dads chicken scratch writing. He obviously had spent expensive time researching and dreaming. It didn’t make sense to me. Until it clicked.
Growing up on the East Coast was an idyllic childhood. We lived in a small town in New Hampshire and spent our summers in a tiny cottage on a lake in Maine. My mom was a teacher and Dad was a Pastor so we got to spend the entire summer there.
We swam, fished, sailed and played the summers away. My memories are filled with tiny tadpoles we kept as pets, canoeing across the lake to get water from the well and the dreaded late night trips to the outhouse that now make me nostalgic.
What I wouldn’t give for one more summer in the place that was our second home.
One more summer of my mom blowing into the shell that sounded across the lake signaling it was time for dinner. One more summer of my dad teaching us to sail, bait a hook and barbecues on the screen porch.
Those years are a distant memory. They were so precious that to this day, thirty years after my last trip to Maine I still sometimes dream of the place. I can feel the warm sand, smell the fresh air and picture the lily pads on the pond that connected to the lake.
I know my parents share these memories and one of my dads few regrets in life was selling our little gem on the shore.
When we moved to California from New Hampshire we went from a church that owned a Parsonage to having to purchase our own home. The only way to do it was to sell our beloved cottage.
Living in California was so different from New Hampshire. We had a pool in our backyard but it could never compare to the lake. My parents wanted to re-create what we had in New England. Unfortunately California real estate in the 80’s and 90’s was a whole different ballgame than the cabin they purchased in the 70’s for $8000. Can you imagine? Lakefront property for under ten grand!
My parents searched the lakes in the area and even beachfront towns but nothing could even come close to their price range. I imagine this is when my dad bought these magazines and did all his dreaming, trying desperately to replace what was lost.
When I was in High School we moved again, this time from Orange County to the Inland Empire. Our new church had a wonderful tradition of camping together at Carlsbad State Beach. Carlsbad became our new Maine. For my older Nephew and Niece; they spent every summer of their childhood there beginning when Christian was just a baby.
As we have all aged, the tent camping became trailer camping and eventually turned into weeks at the Timeshare across the street. For my own kids, the Timeshare is their cottage. They already talk about it and relive memories there as they grow. They look forward to days spent there with their family.
A week at a Timeshare doesn’t compare to a summer at a private cottage but it’s close. My kids don’t know the difference. They just know that they are loved and beyond blessed to have this experience at all. They have family and extended family that love them and love each other enough to do this together.
I imagine my dad kept these magazines as hopes of a dream that may someday come true. Sadly those dreams are not to be. But I hope he knows the dreams he created and legacy he leaves behind.
He did more than replace what was lost. He taught us the importance of family and love; creating something our children and grandchildren can share together for generations. He taught us the importance of time and that life’s greatest treasure is being together; not the literal walls that surround us.
Last summer’s trip to Carlsbad was probably his last. He has declined rapidly in the past year. He no longer attempts to speak and sleeps most of his days away. But I bet you during those naps he dreams of a distant shore, hears the call of the loon and feels the wind and sun on his face as he sails the lake at our beloved little log cabin in Maine.
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