I wasn’t so sure about the cabin at first. Seven years ago when all the Andersons decided to rent the little shack on Spectacle Lake, I was a skeptic. And with good reason. That first summer there was no electric and no plumbing; just an outhouse full of spiders and full of you-know-what. And that first summer, too, was fraught with disaster from the get-go. Every week it seemed there was a story to tell, and never good. Kyle pulled a hamstring trying to ski like a kid, a leg turned black from thigh to foot. The boat caught fire when the older cousins took friends out for a ride. Nils, who wasn’t so sure about lake adventures in the first place, caught a rope across the face while tubing; left for camp the next day, face swollen with second-degree burns and looking mighty tough. Nick and Grant learned the hard way about the rules of the lake when the DNR welcomed them with a big fat ticket. Paid by Grammy. And I would have been happy to turn in our boat license and cabin keys both by the end of that summer.
But here we are seven years later and my heart’s been a little achy all week at the thought of turning in keys. Our little green Cabin-et wasn’t such a bad place after all. Over the years we added a few improvements. Uncle Brian financed a portable toilet, a huge improvement over the old wooden box. Grammy came up with a kitchen counter and faux sink bucket, making it possible to feed the masses as only Grammy can. We turned on some lights and added a fridge, which never ceased to be full of pop. (Not to be confused with our patriarch, who is also Pop.) The dock and the boatlift morphed over time, a tribute to Uncle Trent’s talent for finding free stuff and rigging up ways to haul it cross-country and out to the lake.
This family’s morphed, too. Over the years we’ve added girlfriends, two sons, and a wife. Our 4th of July tables filled to overflowing, most years shirt-tale cousins and in-laws joining the party. A few favorite friends have been frequent guests – invitations doubling on days when heavy lifting needs to be done. The more the merrier, according to Grammy, and she never fails to have plenty of food on hand. So we all pack in tight around the sturdy picnic table built by Kyle that first summer; we stuff our faces and catch up on good conversation over strawberry pie.
Last summer the cabin became our refuge. Those anxious days of trying to figure out how to live as family, and Felipe and Jimmy loved the lake. Almost weekly we’d escape the tension of regular life and drive the thirty minutes for a breath of fresh air. Those boys spent hours behind that boat, spinning circles and catching big air, Dad more than willing to pay for yet another tank of gas. And me hoping they didn’t need a spotter, that hammock under the pine trees calling my name. I thought it often – how this cabin I once scorned had become awfully dear.
It was bound to happen. This summer, we’d all admit, things weren’t the same. Anderson cousins growing up and spreading out. California, Florida, Colorado, and Iowa. And the little green cabin was getting a little bit lonely. Mostly grown-ups trying to rally teens for weekend outings, kids with jobs and busy schedules. And by mid-summer the writing was on the wall. The Cabin-et era had come to an end. Rats.
The older you are the less you like it. Grammy hinted at this as we were leaving last weekend. The end of an era can mean new beginnings when you’re 20-something and just starting out. But it’s more of a bummer for those left behind. The ache in my chest as we drove away was as much for the grandparents as any of us.
But then this, the next morning. An Anderson group text, sent out by Grammy. Thinking of all of you today. The beginning of a new season… school and jobs… thankful and just want you to know I love you… and I want to share this verse. 2 Corinthians 12:9. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Yes, His grace is sufficient. Always, for each era. Sometimes that grace comes with spiders and an outhouse, and it just takes you a while to realize it’s there.