We have just had a wonderful weekend with our son and two of his friends. Two friends who have been to the island before, when we still had Papa’s house. We have known them since they were first learning to tie their skates at the rink on Sunday mornings. We also have the honour of calling their parents our friends. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit.
When our kids were young they would come to visit Papa on this island, often without us, on school breaks. With E and I both working we were grateful he would open the door to his house to our kids and their friends. Often their two cousins would be here at the same time with their friends. One week Papa had fourteen kids staying with him.
Rules were simple. Papa provided the meat and vegetables. The kids brought their own junk food, cookies, cereal and chips. Papa cooked, but the kids set the table, washed the dishes, and kept the property and house cleaned. Although the house slept fourteen, the kids chose to set up tents on the front lawn. Tents provided privacy for late night shenanigans and junk food binges. The kids set them up and took them down when they left.
Before the days of fire bans, evening swims were the norm followed by s’mores by the fire pit at the ocean’s edge.
Every summer the first order of business was the building of the summer swim raft. Made from drift wood, the design was never the same. At the end of the summer they took it apart, so it didn’t become a boating hazard during the winter storms. Often, more than one raft was required to get them though the summer… they weren’t the sturdiest of vessels.
From the moment our kids could crawl they were in swim lessons. An ability to swim is mandatory if your Grandparents live on the water. By mid elementary school they were on swim teams. Endurance more important than speed met our safety needs. Before they could take the aluminum boat with motor out on their own they had to be able to swim from one point of the bay to the other.
Papa, would sit on his deck watching the site of the kids enjoying his property by the sea and generally being a hands off, in charge, kinda guy. The kids entertained themselves. They knew the rules (there weren’t many) and if they wanted to come back, and they did… they followed them. Even their friends, complied happily. Many of them came back year after year after year. As a result, even our kids friends had a great relationship with our kid’s Grandfather. Many came to his memorial.
At the end of the summer the kids would build a pyramid on the front lawn for the annual photo-op. Our kids were privileged with their time with Papa on the island and they knew it.
Our door here is always open for our children when they want to bring their friends. They are welcome. On Thursday, we have our ten month old granddaughter coming by herself for five days. It will be her third visit and the first of hopefully a lifetime of solo visits. One day I hope and expect she will bring her friends with her.
Growing up, our childrens lives were so enriched with their time on this island and in turn Papa’s grandchildren brought such happiness to his years living here. We are overjoyed that it is
now our turn