As we pulled around the corner and the three-story, wood cabin was revealed through the woods, I realized without my grandfather there the lake would never be the same as it once was. My grandfather had just passed away 7 months before, but seeing his life’s work without his overjoyed spirit to fill it made the cabin seem more like a haunted house instead of our summer getaway. The overwhelming feeling of family love and community was gone. His usual “welcome home” whistle when we would pull up to the cabin played in my head. He used that same whistle when he became to old to walk down to the dock every time one of his grandkids would ski, and he would sit up on his huge porch like a king looking over his domain.
I carried my bags up the side stairs and plopped them down on the couch. I looked out onto the lake through the wall off windows and began to cry. My dad was just a few minutes behind me, and as soon as he walked in he too felt the absence of his father’s unconditional love. I will never forget that one moment; a few seconds that felt like eternity.
Through my tear filled eyes I watched my father’s sky blue eyes turn red and overflow with tears. In the few seconds of eye contact between me and my father we knew exactly what the other one was thinking: the lake will never be the same.Eyes with years of wisdom became eyes of innocence and utter sorrow. As children grow older, the roles of guardian and dependent slowly reverse. I hugged him just like he had done so many times to me. My father took care of my grandfather until he died, and now the roles have been passed down. Having spent so many summers there I have many firsts that I experienced there. The first time I skied, caught a fish, shot of gun, and drove a boat were all lessons from my grandfather. This moment was just another first: the first time I felt responsibility over my father. It is the natural process of life.
For the next three days we followed all my grandfathers traditions: daily saunas that ended with jumping in the freezing water, taking long naps on the hammock, and enormous breakfasts of bacon, eggs, waffles, and black tea. We went on many “bear hunts,” enjoying nature and looking for adventure. We passed the evening hours by fishing in a lake that seemed to be filled with fish too smart for a simple hook and worm.
My father always talked about how his father eventually became his best friend. Along
with the many life lessons my grandfather passed down to us, he also passed down a new relationship to me and my father. Watching my father take care of my grandfather prepared me to now take on the responsibility of my father. During this trip my role in my family changed, and I will be taking care of my father until someone has to take care of me.