Cabin on the Lake - Montana
I've had a perfect life. That's what I want to tell you. Absolutely perfect. Just look around! I sit here at the base of a mountain with a lovely lake at my front door. What do I care if I'm out here all by myself, looking a little rough around the edges? I've watched generation after generation come out here and have fun and build relationships. Perfect!
I was built by a fellow called Jack. He was a young man when he built me. I was a dream he'd harbored for awhile, before he got the money together. He'd come out here with his buddies to fish and to hunt and to get away from the 'women folk', as he called them.
The men would sit around at night and talk about sports and jobs and give thanks that they had this great escape where they could spend a few weekends.
After a few years those men began to bring their sons with them. The talk changed a bit then. It was more educational. How to handle a rifle properly. How to clean a fish and fry it up. They didn't talk as much about escape. Natural I suppose, for those little boys and their mothers were who they'd been 'escaping' from.
That went on for a few years, and then the boys got too old to want to hang out with their dads. They started coming up here on their own and the visits got a little more lively. The boys must have been 15, maybe 16 when they started showing up alone. They'd bring beer and they'd sit around and tell stories--mostly made up--about the girls they dated and the things they did.
One time they showed up with whiskey and I was sure someone would end up dead. Nothing like half a dozen drunken boys shooting rifles at things to shake you up! Well, they survived it without injury, and I only got a couple of scratches. From time to time one of the boys would show up with just a girlfriend and have a private visit to the cabin.
Jack and his friends still turned up a couple weekends a year. They'd find bottles laying around and they'd sit and discuss their nearly grown children and what would become of them with a certain trepidation in their voices. I suppose responsibility had made them forget what it was like to be young and foolish.
Eventually those boys turned into men. They got busy with work, or maybe moved away. Once or twice a year they'd get together and visit. And eventually they brought the third generation, their boys. And their girls. It was the '70's and women's lib was in full swing. Couldn't leave the little girls home. But I'll tell you something. Little girls, generally speaking, don't like sticking worms on hooks or cutting heads off of fish. Pretty soon the girls stayed home.
One time Jack showed up with his two sons and three grandsons. Three generations of the family, and I saw how grandpas are different from fathers. Jack was more patient with his grandsons than he'd been with his own boys. He made fewer demands and offered more encouragement. He noticed that each grandson was different. His own boys he'd always treated like they were carbon copies.
Something happened after that visit and for quite a few years I was alone except for an occasional stranger who'd pass through and spend the night on his way to somewhere else. I didn't see Jack or his family. Then one day the whole crowd turned up again. The two sons, wives, grandsons, the little granddaughters who hadn't liked worms. The sons had gray hair. The grandsons were grown up and had wives. The granddaughters clutched the hands of toddlers, and one carried a baby. The fourth generation. I didn't see Jack among them.
They gathered at the edge of the lake and I realized that they were mostly sad. They said some prayers and opened a container. "Dad will be here forever now," I heard one of the boys say. "His favorite spot," said the other.
Since then I've been waiting, hoping that those toddlers will soon be old enough that they need to learn to catch a fish or handle a rifle. I'm alone out here, but I'm not lonely. It's a blessing that I got to see 4 generations of that family, and to know I was Jack's favorite spot. And I do believe that one of these days those sons or grandsons are going to remember the times they spent here and feel called to bring that new generation out here to see the old place.
I'll be waiting.