by Rod Johnson
This may not be as earth shattering as Paul Revere's warning announcement in 1776, but ask any grandparent what the highlight of their year or season is and the answer is the pretty much the same. After asking several Grammies and Grampies, here are some replies: "Oh, it has to be when the kids come on the Fourth of July"; "Definitely when the grands come for Christmas"; "Whenever we see the kids either at their house or ours."
In contemplating this story I realize that what brought on the notion to use this topic is that our own children and grands are coming to visit during the Fourth of July period. There's much talk about it between Doris and me and we realize that the kids are chatting amongst themselves and making their own plans, too.
We hear tidbits from our children that the grands are now either talking or texting back and forth. Their concerns are who might come, who's going to bunk with whom, who can drive the boat this year, who might make it up on water skis and so on. The excitement is growing for all three generations in different ways.
As the weeks and months plod along, school gets closer to being over and the summer dreams will soon become a reality. Plans are finalized for each generation. Gram and Gramp have seen to it that the seasonal cottage or home is ready for the ever expanding family. The docks are in, the boats are serviced and sitting idle at their moorings quietly awaiting their young captains. Mom and Dad have had their own hands full with the juggling of schedules, job time off, travel arrangements, finances and much more. The grandkids have somewhat settled on who is sleeping where, what friend might come for a couple of days, and who got the long straw on driving the boat first.
The elders, having seen this whole process happen before with their own children, sit back with satisfaction and take it all in. They know that every year is special, not just for them but everyone involved. They know that each visit is unique yet can be similar. They know that their children and grandchildren will be enriched and their horizons broadened during these special times. They know that many life-long friendships may be made, alliances formed and new loves experienced.
In many small Maine inland communities, our case being the Belgrade Area and its chain of lakes, we usually frame our thinking about family summer visits being at the lakeside camp or home. This may be the case with us, but we also know that Maine has a large coastal summer influx of visitors that are drawn to the ocean. In our northern wilderness areas upland rivers and mountains abound, offering peace and serenity to others.
Whatever your family chooses as an annual gathering place, where bonding is developed and memories are made, do your best to advocate and continue it. I truly believe that what a person gains from these annual visits to their special place is worth it's weight in gold!
Rod Johnson was born and raised in the Belgrade Lakes in the 1950s and '60s.