Cottage Memories and the Importance of Family

Ice on Log Cabin - the seasons of our lives

Ice on Log Cabin – the seasons of our lives

Hello Cottage Families,

This Family Day weekend I reflect upon the importance of family and having special places to gather like family cottages that create amazing experiences and memories that are shared with friends and family.  If you grew up with a family cottage, you likely understand how family is great to be around but not perfect.  Who is really?  As kids at a family cottage, you have a great time and grow up knowing your cousins and remaining friends throughout life.

I was reminded of this special relationship as we gathered as a large extended family for my cousin Mike’s Memorial in Ottawa this weekend.  Sadly, Mike passed away December 21, 2012 in a fire that also destroyed the log cabin that my grandfather built which was also Mike’s favourite place on earth to be.

A cottage where family gathered and memories were made

A cottage where family gathered and memories were made

As his brother and his dad spoke about life with Mike, the memories were all around the cottage.  As kids, we had so many great times and many memories were flashing before our eyes as we were reminded of the family regattas, the feasts at Thanksgiving, the ATV rallies, the riding and fixing of dirt bikes, the fishing trips and searches for the spots where the fish were to be found, the swims to the big rock, the hide and seek, the ghost stories and returning home via flashlight with an older cousin waiting to scare you, the water fights, the monopoly games that lasted for days during bad weather, the moose stories of how it got stuck in the cabin and taking pictures of each kid on the top, the wedding showers (yes even an ABBA themed one), the hikes in Algonquin Park, the boat trips to the waterfall you could slide down (the blood suckers taken off with salt), the lightning storms, the docks and rafts and hours swimming,  the boats rides under the tunnel to the other lake for candy, the canoe trips and paddling down rivers and lakes, water skiing and tubing, sailing with the evening sun on your back, homemade pirate ships and singing over the motor, the delicious food shared with family, beautiful sunsets, the evening fires, watching for shooting stars, returning to your own cottage by boat via flashlight and seeing the northern lights, and of course family.

The stories of how the moose got stuck there fasinated the grandkids

The stories of how the moose got stuck there fasinated the grandkids

Always family.  Aunts, Uncles, Grandpa and Grandma, cousins, brothers, sisters and extended family members of Aunts and Uncles plus lots of pets. It was about family – a really big family.  The food, the adventures – outdoors or indoors, happy or sad, it was about family and usually lots of smiles and laughter.

As I sit here writing, a smile is spreading on my face and warmth is filling my soul.  The cottage is family.

While we will miss Mike and Grandpa’s cottage, they are forever united as a place where a son who was loved met his final resting spot in a place he loved.  As we gathered as a family, it was clear; we all still had each other and cottage memories to share.

We have all become adults with kids of our own and many of us have our own cottages off the lake and have created new experiences for our children and their cousins to share and tell stories about the huge fish they caught 25 years later.  And still it is about family.

Mike’s brother said it best when he gave us guidance to live by:

    • Don’t gossip – it does no one any good.
    • If you are upset by someone, tell them and tell them why.
    • If someone makes you happy, tell them and tell them why.
    • If you are able to forgive, don’t wait, forgive and mend old ties.
    • If you love someone, tell them today, as tomorrow might be too late

After the service, the extended group of cousins and aunts and uncles went out for dinner where it was very clear, that the memories you create as children, bond so many different people together and create lots of laughter.

As we left, we all extended invitations to our cottages – a sign that family and cottage go together in any place, building or space.  The family and memories are more important than the building.

Michael, may you rest in peace.  We will always remember you at the cottage having fun.

To Family and The Cottage.

Jo-Ann Blondin, your 9CupChallenge partner.

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