Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Monday, August 4, 2014

Going Home Again - The Cottage



 
In his 1940 novel, You Can’t Go Back Home Again, Thomas Wolfe wrote: “You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love,' back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

Since Mr. Wolfe wrote that iconic title---You Can’t Go Home Again---it's become a kind of metaphor or shorthand for stating that once we’ve moved forward into the more sophisticated world of adulthood with all its ups and downs, heartaches and headaches, joys and disappointments any attempt to relive our youthful memories will always fall flat and fail. Nothing ever stays the same and we all have to acknowledge that with a blending of sentimentality and longing or loathing---depending on what the world has brought into our lives...or we left behind before our coming of age.

But Thomas Wolfe didn’t know about the Power of the Key. When my niece bought the cottage where I spend all my summers growing up and where my parents later retired she presented my brother and me with keys tied with red satin ribbons that matched much of the decor` within the two bedroom cottage. It was her way of saying we would always be welcome to stop by, even if no one was at home. She was out of state this past weekend so that’s exactly what I did and it was just what I needed to help heal the mild depression I’ve been feeling these past few weeks. You might not be able to go back home again, but a visit sure can be fun and uplifting. (My childhood play pal happened to be at the lake, too, and we had a great visit.)

Below is a photo-essay of some of the things I like best about the cottage. My niece kept much of the old and added more “old” to the cottage’s bones to give it that planned vintage look. She painted walls to lighten it up but kept my mother’ beloved red kitchen cabinets that my dad built.  The flooring is all new but the only meat-and-potatoes kind of change she made was a much needed bathroom remodel. Oh, and she added a screen porch that I couldn't photograph because the furnishings out there had been pulled back in case of rain. It's one of my favorite areas, though. I always feel like I’m sitting into a copy of Cottage Living Magazine when I'm out there. ©

This desk was in my bedroom growing up. It has the same green antiquing on it that I did in the 70s.
The bed at one end of the old porch. I spent many nights sleeping there.
On the opposite wall from the green desk above.
 
One of my mother's rockers. If she was sitting, she was usually rocking.

I did the antiquing on the rocker in the 70s. It's held up well!

The tin plate and cup my brother and I used as kids.

The corner shelf above the kitchen sink that my dad made for cups and the cookie jar.

On the left windowsill in the kitchen.

On the right windowsill in the kitchen.
The shelves on the old porch line the wall opposite the bed and were built by my dad.
The set of books are the ones my brother and I read when it was raining outside.

The back splash in the new bathroom. Wainscoting and the cottage go hand and hand .
The cottage has a name, now, too, in honor of my dad.

Mom and Dad in the early 1940s.

The key that unlocks the perfect blending of the past and present.

24 comments:

  1. Oh. My. Gosh! A place to truly soothe the soul. I get this feeling when I go out to my home town and The Farm--it still looks like it did in the fifties--especially the fields and the woods. My dream--to have a small house on a lakefront. I will never have it and so jealous!

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    1. Isn't that a great feeling to still have access to a place where so many childhood memories reside? Over the weekend I also went to my other niece's cottage and there is a tiny house next door for sale---even wheelchair friendly--- and all the way home I kept thinking I should/could buy it. If it was just a few homes down, instead of right next door, I probably seriously consider it. I think everyone here in Michigan wants a small house on a lakefront.

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    2. You ought to. right next door doesn't mean you or them will interfere and as you age, it might be nice to have someone near that cares and would watch to make sure your shades are up each morning, signalling you are still alive. Oh gosh--lakefront.

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    3. I have thought about that place so much my head hurts. For every positive there is a negative..like no garage or place to put one and so many country roads to travel to get anywhere to off set the dream of living on a lake and being close by to all my family. I think too much. I should just act on impulse someday and do something wild like buy a tiny house on a lake and work on the details later.

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    4. Oh, Jean those pictures brought tears to my eyes. My mind began to recall the nights I spent there. Our trips to the out house, baths in the lake, cowboys and Indians on a shelf on the porch, family gatherings, reunions, so many heart-felt memories. I remember staying there when my mom had Bruce, 65 years ago! Thanks for sharing and someday I would love to see it in person.

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    5. Can you believe it, the cowboys and Indians are still on a shelve only a different shelve near the tin plate now, along with some of mom's cats. Maybe we could set something up in September.

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  2. that made me tear up a bit honey. you are so fortunate to be able to go back in time like that. i can too but only in my memories. that's ok though, they are vivid! the cottage is lovely!

    hugs, bee
    oxoxoxoxxo

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    1. Aren't I thought! Before my niece bought the place I had remodeled that place in my mind so many times and never, ever did I come up with anything that looks as great as she did.

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  3. You can't believe the memories that came rushing back from our recent visit to the cottage. Had a wonderful time

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    1. Wasn't that a special day! And I believe it about the memories. It happens to me every time I go there. I need to do another photo-essay of the outside and the porch.

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  4. Jean :

    I am so glad you visited cottage with your family & had great time love the pictures. looks like thoughtfulness & kindness runs common in your family. Your niece is do thoughtful. I am glad that visit uplifted your spirit.

    Asha

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    1. I do have a great extended family. The visit to the cottage was just what I needed, being there alone I was free to let the memories flow and glow.

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  5. I know several people who have long-time family cottages or houses in Northern Michigan, which serve as retreats for them now in difficult times. You are lucky you have this place to go.

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  6. Welcome to my blog, Marti! On the big lakes in Michigan a lot of those cottages have been past down from generation to generation and are out of react for the average income but inland there are some great little and affordable retreat cottages all around state. We are lucky to have so many lakes near-by.

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  7. I love love love your cottage! Thanks for all the photos. Just enjoy more little trips there in the good weather instead of buying one! Win/win for both you and niece!?? Then you have the best of both worlds.

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    1. My niece is always offering to let me take a whole week at the cottage when she's not going to be using it. She's very generous with offering it. It feels so magical to be out there that I'm half afraid the magical will where off if I take her up on staying that long.

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  8. Jean,
    What a wonderful place. It's like stepping back in time. I antiqued a desk in that same green in the 70s. Ha. How nice that she gave you and your brother a key and honored your Dad and all of you, really, by keeping some of the things that were already there. I'm glad that your visit made you feel better. Sometimes just a little grounding is all we need. Love the "Don't blame me. I voted Democratic" button. :) I'm so glad you shared the photos with us.

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  9. I'm glad my niece gave me permission to post them. I had them already up before I asked. Oops! She's a sweetheart and she has a great eye for decorating and collecting meaningful things.

    I love that 70s antiquing green. I still have a table and a chest of drawers with the same antiquing and it's held up so well...the color is even back in style again.

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  10. Utterly delightful and heart warming - thank you for this peek into your roots. Either there is no microwave or flat screen TV or tech central or you have carefully chosen where you pointed your camera! I hope this thread into your past gave you a new perspective, and lifted your spirit. Isn't it true that our past can be our wellspring?

    I return more often to my childhood home now that my brother is inhabiting it along with my father. Mine contained such reminders of abuse that staying overnight would bring back horrid memories. I could only manage being inside a few hours at a stretch. Now I watch with joy as my brother transforms its spaces into loving ones. Keep the best of the past and remove the sting of the rest, I say.

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    1. I have nothing but good memories of the cottage so it is uplifting to go there. It was an empty lot when I was 2-3 years old so I've seen it change a lot over the years. My dad built every square inch, then remodeled it a time or two as his skills got better or my mom would decide to move a widow or a wall. There is a TV on the old porch but not a microwave.

      Glad you are "throwing out" your bad memories thus removing their power over you. It's what you have to do to heal yourself.

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  11. I love the cottage, and appreciate being able to see how thoughtful your niece has been. Sounds just what the dr ordered for you; I'm glad it helped. :)

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    1. Thank you! Sometimes I think we all take for granted these little gestures we get from family and friends---like my niece with the key and the standing invitation. It really did help to get out of my normal routine.

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  12. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

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    1. I agree.....love that cottage and what my niece did with it.

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