My heart nearly burst when I found this old photograph while cleaning out our attic. It’s of my cousin and I sitting at the end of my grandparents’ dock in Iron Mountain, MI as children. Grandpa painted it on a big canvas using vibrant oils and hung it in the family room where he would spend hours listing to Frank Sinatra on vinyl while Grandma had this one, the original, framed next to the mirror in her bathroom. After they passed, I thought it was lost forever… but there it was, dusty, stuck between an old Southern Living magazine and an unused picture frame. “Lissi and Tyler 9 yrs 1993″ scribbled on the back in Grandma D’s handwriting.
A piece of me is tucked into that corner of Lake Antoine and that rickety old dock.
When I look at this picture I remember summers with all of the cousins together. We’d lay belly down across the dock planks, heads peeking over the edge, sticks in hand poking around for crawfish. I can hear the water gently washing against the aging wood and see the sun dancing on the rocks just below the water’s surface. I still feel it’s warmth wrapping around my bare shoulders. The air is thick in the summer and it carries the scent of the lake wherever it goes. I remember sitting there for hours and hours chatting about everything and absolutely nothing.
As teenagers, we’d sit on that dock with a guitar and a handful of witty lyrics and harmonies we came up with on the fly. We’d sing and dream until the sun had gone to bed. Once night had fallen on the lake, we would tell stories… scary stories. We’d squirm, sitting in the dark, listening to the frogs and crickets and all other creatures of the night making their way out of hiding, until “CRACK!” a deer or fox would step on a branch and send us racing back up the hill to the house, screaming and laughing all the way!
I am thankful for the time our families spent in Iron Mountain together. My memories are rich and full of warmth. I learned hospitality from my Grandmother and drive and determination from my Grandfather. They paved their own path and walked it proudly and were loved by all. But mostly, they adored us. Their large, beautiful, sometimes obnoxious, family. They lived for us. They were my number one fans, and told me every chance they got! I miss them terribly, but I am grateful for the memories I hold.