Julie Lyles Carr: A Legacy of Love and Lake

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Legacy of Love and Lake

It was supposed to be a little getaway, a place to fish, play on the water, get away from the hustle and bustle of town.

Mike's Grammy and Granddad bought the lake property many decades ago, a remote piece of property high on a bluff overlooking Grand Lake with a dilapidated old cabin. Over the years, they repaired the cabin, added a boat dock, added other little out buildings, including a workshop for Granddad. They spent many a summer there and ultimately moved to the property once they sold their house in Tulsa.

It became the setting for the final years of their love story.

Their love for each other.

Their love for their daughter and her husband.

Their love for their grandchildren.

Granddad passed away in 1984. Grammy moved back to Tulsa, taking a posh apartment in a nice senior community. And the lake became even more treasured.

I spent my first Thanksgiving with Mike's family up at the lake. I was immediately charmed by the view, the cabin, the sweet scent of memories contained within the property. After we married and started having babies, the lake was our version of vacation, an inexpensive destination with water and sun.

I hadn't been back to the lake since Grammy passed away in 2008. When I drove up on Sunday to pick up kiddos from MiMi and PaPa Camp, I was met with an overwhelming bouquet of memories, not just my own, but the whispers of Grammy and Granddad.

It brought me to tears.

Because everywhere I looked this trip, I could see their little love notes to each other, the items that are maintained at the cabin, not because they have monetary value, but because they are precious. Priceless.

This table cloth has been around for years, covering the picnic table.

Granddad put up this windmill so he could determine the direction of the wind. The property had many a whirlygig the first time I visited, meteorolgical flotsam hanging from trees and corners of buildings.

I love these little squirrels. This mama and her babies have been climbing a corner of the porch ever since I can remember.

These turquoise pots have made many a meal.

Grammy and Granddad wrote their initials in the wet concrete that was poured to create the long ramp down to the boat dock. It was one of the major improvements they made to the property, circa 1968.

These little plates still bear testimony to Grammy and Granddad's delight in becoming grandparents with Mike and his sister A's births.

I could keep going. I took photo after photo, seeing for the first time this place as museum. I've always loved it, but those little pieces of Grammy and Granddad's vision, the items that furnished their world, the odds and ends of furniture, the depot for extraneous household goods, it all has taken on new significance.

120My precious in-laws own the place now. They lovingly maintain it, spending many peaceful days drinking in the view and feasting on the memories, both old and new. They are leaving their mark on the place, redoing some rooms, adding some conveniences. Mike's sister and her husband have worked tirelessly to make repairs and modernize certain features. And through it all, they have managed to honor and keep at center stage the memory of the ones who started it all.

It's not just the lake. It's a legacy. It's not just a cabin. It's a center of family memory, part recreation, part shrine.

And I can see Grammy and Granddad still there, standing on the bluff, the lake behind them, now reunited. Somehow I know there's a little corner of heaven that looks just like this.
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