Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Island Memories

I spent my childhood vacationing on an island. It was located on Long Lake in Michigan and it was my grandpa's. The story is that my great-grandfather won the island in a poker game. He passed it onto my grandpa who became the caretaker. Eventually, it became known as (my last name) Island. It is no longer in the family but I do have wonderful memories of this place and I'd like to share some that are significant to me.

  • When we got to the lake, we would park at the public landing, my dad and grandpa would swim to the island, unlock our Jon boats and row them to the landing to pick us up. If we were expecting guests, they would honk their horns to notify us that they had arrived.
  • There was a two-bedroom cottage and an outhouse on the island. That's all. No running water, no heat and no phone. There was a stuffed deer head in the living room overlooking our potbelly stove that kept us warm on cold Michigan nights.
  • Since there was no bathroom, we took our baths in the lake. Ivory soap floats so we could set it on top of the water while we washed. If it was winter, we bathed inside using wash basins but we'd have to pump the water by hand and heat it on the stove.
  • I remember my dad sunbathing on a float. He fell asleep and floated away so far that we had to pick him up in the boat.
  • My grandpa used to catch Sunfish and Bluegill that we'd eat for dinner. We never went a visit without making s'mores and roasting hot dogs in the fire pit.
  • One summer, my mom, dad, sister and I spent a week on the island by ourselves. This is where my parents told us that they were separating. My dad always broke bad news to us somewhere outside. I guess that he felt that being outside, where it was beautiful, would ease the pain of bad news.
  • I learned the correct way of peeing in an outhouse at a very young age. When having to use an outhouse, you learn to either hold your breath or breathe into the sleeve of your shirt. Lysol is your best friend.
  • When I was in high school, I spent a few weeks on the island with my dad, sister, grandma and grandpa. The night we arrived, a tornado came through and took out the power. My dad cooked gourmet meals on the potbelly stove and a charcoal grill. He had a way of making everything special.  
  • I was able to spend a couple nights on the island with my husband. I'm so happy that he got to experience this wonderful place with me. I absolutely loved being there with my grandparents as an adult. It was such a beautiful experience and I will hold it with me forever.

It amazes me that a place can hold both happy and sad memories. When I think of this island, I travel back in time. I sense my childhood again, how simple being with family can be and the spirits of those who are no longer with me. I don't know if I will ever have a child but, if I do, I hope that he or she will have memories of a place like this. I hope that everyone has a special place like my island.


  1. Wonderful memories. I live on an island today. They are definitely special.

  2. You painted a most peaceful picture with your island life.
    Wonderful to read, Thanks for sharing.


  3. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. :)

  4. That sounds like so much fun even though I'm sure I'd suffer without an indoor bathroom. However, that's how I grew up and look at me now. Ha.

    These are awesome memories of place. I am sorry you have to relate it to your folks separating.


  5. Sweet memories. I love the outhouse factor! It IS a blessing to have a "place" that many loved ones share. Even if some memories are painful. Such is an authentic life. Thank you!

  6. You make me want to find an island and move to it...like today. Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a lovely post. I want to spend time on an island too!!! Lovely, yes indeed a lovely post.

  8. This sounds like a wonderful place to create memories!! How cool that they would swim to get the boats!! Wonderful post!!

    Cheers, Jenn