"Are you coming to the Lake?"
That's the question that comes from my mom every summer. And the answer is always yes.
The lake in question is a small lake in Virginia where my parents have a house. About 12 years ago, they were selling my grandparents' house there after they passed away and decided they'd like a place there as well. It is a lovely home right on the lake with a pontoon boat at the dock, an array of non-mororized water fun and it had enough beds for everyone in the family (by now they had 6 grandchildren, and one more would come in the next few years).
I spent a lot of summers at the lake myself. My grandparents would have each of the grandkids visit all by themselves for a bit each summer. It was heaven for me, the youngest cousin, to get the undivided attention of the grands. Mom mom was willing to take me swimming daily, even though she herself didn't swim (she'd stand ankle deep and tie a rope around her leg and my waste). We'd come home to baloney sandwiches with pringles inside for extra crunch. I surprised myself by loving tomatoes when I tried a freshly picked one from the garden. I can still here her saying "Oh, honey," to almost anything, often before explaining why she wore a nightcap to bed (she styled her hair weekly and kept it looking good that way) or letting me put every spice in the spice rack into our egg salad.
Pop pop was another thing altogether. He'd come upon the egg salad making extravaganza and say "It's just as good if you put it, sliced, right on the bread. I don't know why you make such a fuss." His wife grew up on a gentleman's farm in southern Maryland, and he recreated something like it at their lake house. A few rows of corn grew at the back of our property, they string beans, tomatoes and other things I didn't quite get a taste for --maybe squash? -- growing in the garden. One summer, I even got to go with Pop to the post office and pick up two dozen live quail chicks.
Pop also let me ride on the hood of the car once, after a viewing of the movie "Footloose" had me begging to ride somehow outside the car. He "gunned it" to maybe 8 or 9 mph and it felt like I would fly off the car. I never asked anything like that again. He taught me to drive in the lower parking lot at the clubhouse.
We drove past that parking lot on our visit earlier this week. Mom and Dad have decided to sell their lake house, so we are on one last tour of the sites. The earthen dam at the end of the lake, where I once rolled down the grassy slope, only to get covered with cuts from the sharp grass that grew there. The newer memories, like jumping off my parents' dock and capturing it in slow-mo on our phones.
We went through the house to get it ready to sell. I got a little Joanna Gaines-y in one closet, staging some cowboy boots and a hat with a purple flower just so. We went through the stuffed animals, fisher price toys and coloring books my own kids once played with. We went through the remains of several record collections that made their way to the lake house, because that's where Pop Pop's turntable landed as well.
We headed back home, having done all the things we needed to do -- even swimming in the lake long enough to be nipped by a few minnows. I'm not sure if we will be back. It's hard to say goodbye to a place where you grew up and your own children made lots of memories as well. I don't think you really can.
When we were coming down to swim one day, a dad was trying to get his toddler daughter out of the warm, velvety water for bedtime, as his wife got their younger daughter dry on the beach. I saw them look at us and back at the house. The for sale sign was right in their line of sight. I think they could make some nice memories there.