My mom got my childhood home in the divorce settlement, and my dad got our Lake Cabin. For the better part of 15 years (so 10 years prior to the separation), he's bandied around the idea of getting rid of it. I've always known that my dad likes to play "What If?" quite a bit, and rather than get upset every time he complained about not using it enough, or every time the mood struck him to start talking about selling, I just wrote it off as him venting. I don't think I've ever actually believed it might be lost.
At this point my younger sister is almost done with her undergraduate degree, and my dad's wife's youngest son is graduating from high school. ("Step brother" is not a word I'm comfortable using. That's for another post I guess.)
Here's what just clicked: my dad has told me over and over how growing up, his own father would say (to him directly? within earshot?) that as soon as my dad was 18, he'd leave my grandmother. And guess what? After all those years of saying that, my dad turned 18 and my grandfather divorced my grandmother. My dad is going to sell the cabin.
We've had it since I was 5. It's as much a childhood home to me as my childhood home. So far, my mom seems able to keep that house, so if I'm going to lose a home to my parents' divorce this one will probably be the one. Hopefully the only.
Growing up, I daydreamed about summers at the cabin with my own children. Them knowing those particular frogs' song, the descendants of the same loons wailing, the same Norway pines.
I guess I am realizing that's not going to happen, and I'm feeling it with a new kind of finality. I avoided feeling it for the last few years because my dad's prenup with his new wife supposedly states that if they are living there as their primary residence at the time of his death she may continue to live there as long as she likes provided she remains unmarried, but that otherwise or at her death it comes back to my sister and I. (Although it's worth noting that my dad never showed my sister or I any document, so who knows.)
Regardless, I chose to believe him probably in no small part because it avoided some pain to assume the cabin wouldn't get passed to my dad's wife's kids some day. Also I realize that I am holding onto the hope that someday when our parents are gone, I and my sister and our respective families can rejoin there, reclaim the pine walls from the garish, poster-size wedding pictures my dad and his wife have plastered everywhere, and once again feel something more familiar.
So my sister told me he's talking about selling again the other night. I no longer speak to my dad; in a sense I've already lost it. But suddenly I am overcome with wanting to go back and get pictures of a few things there, and a few random items:
- The note on an old wipe board stuck to the side of the fridge - "Orioles like grape jelly" in my mother's handwriting.
- Also in her hand, a repurposed bottle of shower gel that reads, "HAND SOAP."
- A giant stuffed unicorn my dad won for me at the State Fair midway.
- A sound recording of boots on the traprock driveway.
- All the lily bulbs from the garden where my mom's mother's ashes are buried.
Somehow in my mind, maybe I could move the now-large weeping willow my dad gave my mom years ago. But as soon as I think that, I remember a poem I heard on the radio 17 years ago that I liked enough to transcribe, about going to a place you used to know and wanting to find a souvenir:
"Sometimes even small blue flowers grow so big you cannot take them home."