My mom would have been 69 yesterday. I spent her birthday traveling home to Everett from Catawba Island, Ohio. Hard not to think about her there, surrounded by family and friends who adored her too, and surrounded by the beauty of a precious place that holds so many memories from over the years.
Like all good family soap operas, some of those memories are bittersweet, but most of them are the kind of warm, happy scenes you wrap up carefully and hold close in your heart until you can return, or in case you never do.
My mom loved that place. Who wouldn’t? A tiny, hidden stretch of gorgeous land on the shores of Lake Erie with a handful of sleepy, old, rustic cottages, the lawns stretched out in abandon around them and enormous maple and oak trees standing guard.
I have been lucky enough to visit two different cottages at this place, since I was a child, to spend lazy summer days on the dock, swimming in the waves, playing endless card games and crazy rounds of spoons. Sharing stories, laughter and scrumptious meals around large, wonderfully crowded tables. It’s the kind of place we share with family and the most special friends, Gwen, Tricia, Tim, Meg, Izzy, Greg, Sue and Anthony, and so many more. The kinds of friends who become the family you choose.
One of the best memories I have of Lake Erie is sharing coffee on the screened-in porch of the Maple cottage with my mom.
When I was in college and after I graduated, especially after I went to Europe and became a total coffee snob, I loved waking early at the Lake knowing my mom would be up making coffee. We would sit on the porch together in that morning quiet and drink our coffee, just the two of us before anyone else woke up. Sometimes we’d talk about what we were going to make for dinner that night, because really, people, it’s all about the food, isn’t it! Sometimes we’d read our books. Often we would just sit there together enjoying our deliciously strong, rich coffee in a magical place.
My mom is always with me, but when I go to the Lake, I feel her presence so strongly, and I miss her more acutely, but ultimately I feel more connected to her than almost anywhere else.