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.
12 Replies to “A Different Summer”
I’m glad to hear your husband is getting better. Cancer does impact the whole family, and the support you give each other is so important. That new deck looks great!
Thanks Ann! You know how cancer can derail every family plan. We are coping with an unanticipated new reality. Meanwhile, fall has arrived in Ontario and we are enjoying some lovely sunny days at the cottage. every moment is precious!
Hi Jeanette, I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s illness but glad he is doing well. I truly understand your attachment to the cottage! The island we are on was bought by my grandmother before I was born and we both know that was a long time ago. It’s a place for family, enjoyment, peace but also work and expenses. We redid the septic bed this year and the barging cost was more than the whole project. We had 7 very large trees taken down this year and still have the clean up waiting for us next year plus probably a new dock to build as the water levels are going down again. Just wait until you have to stain those decks. I sent the whole month of June staining our 4 decks. I know I’m truly lucky and very happy to have all the work and stress that goes with cottage ownership. Enjoy your cottage! Pam
The cottage ownership themes are similar. We had the septic replaced a few years ago after a renovation that added another bathroom. the municipality required new septic as a condition for a building permit. Fortunately, we didn’t have barge fees as we are on the mainland. The new decks should require less maintenance as we went with a composite product. The deck boards are made of recycled plastic and are easily power-washed. We have one huge oak tree that is over a hundred years old. It’s starting to lean aaway from the wind. I’m in the process of getting estimates for potential removal if the arborist thinks it’s dangerous. Given all that, we’re not going to sell the cottage. From your comment, I know you feel the same!
I’m glad that one way or another, despite the most difficult circumstances, the cottage provided you with continuity and refuge. As you say, the true worth of a favourite bolt hole can’t be measured in dollars and nor too can good medical care. I’m pleased that the summer has provided you with both but sorry to learn of the problems you have been facing.
Hi Caree, Despite the circumstances, we did manage to find some silver linings. We are grateful for the wonderful new drugs available to treat various types of cancer. Last week, my husband had his last scheduled chemo in the series he was prescribed. Thank goodness he has suffered few side effects other than extreme tiredness and weight loss. We’re looking forward to fall and hope to resume some of our normal activities.
Jeanette aka postworksavvy
Sad to hear of your husband’s illness, but pleased to hear that he is doing well, which is great news. Your cottage sounds wonderful.
Thanks for your comment. My husband is an optimistic and hopeful man! I think that has kept him going through the difficulties of chemo and the anxiety before each treatment. We’ve owned the cottage since 1984. It’s the repository of many good memories!
Enjoy your day!
Jeanette aka postworksavvy
Hi Jeanette ….. so sorry to hear about your husbands illness, and you’re so right …. A cancer diagnosis is a game changer in any family . I hope he will start to gain his strength back and that you can enjoy your updated cottage into the fall .
All the best
Hi Sydney — receiving the diagnosis was a shock. We’ve been fortunate to have expeditious treatment and excellent care at the Cancer Clinic. We’re hoping for good fall weather so that we can relax — whether in the city or at the cottage. Be well,
I am sorry to hear of your husband’s illness, but I am glad it seems to be going into remission. There are so many medical treatments these days, and it seems new discoveries and treatments are always being made. How nice to have a cottage – even if this summer wasn’t the usual. At least it was there for a change of scenery. There is nothing more precious than love and making memories with our families. I wish you many more summers of happy times with your family and husband at the cottage.
Thank you for your comment. We believe that the Cancer Clinic here has given excellent treatment. The hematologist keeps telling us about the effectiveness of the new drugs that are now available. As I said in my post — it’s been a different summer but we are grateful for every precious day together. Enjoy the rest of your holiday exploring those national treasures in your country!