Summer 2022 has been a different summer for us. The seasons are about to change so this is a good day for a summer review.
Since purchasing this Grand Bend cottage in 1984, our family tradition is to spend most of each summer at our cottage retreat. Time at the cottage always provides a change of pace. We love watching the sunsets, taking beach walks, enjoying the Carolinian forest around us, and going to the fish market at the harbour. Our lot is heavily wooded so the summer heat never feels extreme. When a cool-off is necessary, Lake Huron provides just what’s needed — a cooling dip!
But, 2022 was different. We simultaneously coped with illness and with a construction project.
After my husband’s diagnosis in late spring with an aggressive type of lymphoma, our cottage habits and routines changed to help us manage my husband’s low energy and tiredness during chemotherapy. There were weeks when we stayed in the city because travel drained his precious physical strength.
I won’t expound on the devasting effect of a cancer diagnosis on every member of the family except to say that each of us coped in our own way. With COVID-19 still a threat we were cautioned about attending group events and interacting with people outside our immediate family because chemotherapy robs the patient of immunity. We didn’t entertain friends and refused all invitations.
A recent PET (positron emission tomography) scan indicates that his cancer is moving into remission. Also, his oncologist is prepared to prescribe a monoclonal antibody drug (Evushled) for injection to lower his chances of getting a COVID infection. All welcome news but we know the journey isn’t over.
Several months before the cancer diagnosis, we signed a contract to demolish and rebuild three decks that allow us to enjoy outdoor living at our cottage. Despite knowing that construction would bring even more upheaval in our lives, we decided to continue with the project as contractors are difficult to engage. Breaking the contract also meant losing substantial money paid as a deposit.
The deck demolition and reconstruction are mostly happy stories. Yes, there was the evening when we arrived and there was no step to any of the four doors into the cottage! The doors hung there about four feet from the ground. I found myself piling boards for makeshift steps and helping my husband to get inside as dusk fell. We didn’t even think about the consequences if we needed to leave in darkness! Thankfully, the contractor built a temporary step the next morning!
To accommodate quick showers for grandchildren coming from the beach with bathing suits and body crevices full of sand, we decided on the construction of an outdoor shower to occur along with the construction of the new decks. Everyone in the family loves this shower! I had my misgivings but have found myself using it after every beach outing. What luxury to shower just outside of my bedroom! No fuss! No sandy mess inside!
After years of owning this cottage, we’ve had various construction projects and renovations. Each of these has added to the liveability and enjoyment of the cottage including the new decks this year. Every change has made the cottage more comfortable in terms of physical space. Every change adds more of a love relationship with the cottage.
Cottage Attachment — an Emotional Investment
Owning a cottage is an emotional investment and not necessarily a financial investment. Ownership is subjective and not quantifiable in terms of money — it’s about feelings and not about dollars.
Our cottage is the place where fond family memories are made. As we grow older, the memories grow stronger.
Now that summer 2022 has run its course, I realize that, although we didn’t spend this summer in the usual way, the cottage provided a place of refuge for my husband to heal, and a place where we had quiet time as a couple. We also enjoyed a couple of busy long weekends with our grandchildren and our family used the cottage to entertain their friends when we had to stay in the city. We know the grandchildren are building their own repository of memories.
The summer may have been different but, as with each season, it was special in its own way.