It’s been a weekend of comings and goings. The comings were full of laughter, fun, and reconnections with friends from our summers on Mackinac. The goings were bittersweet, but expected for some time now. “Expected” didn’t make it easier though.
Living 17 miles off Interstate 75 makes us an easy stop-off point for folks traveling from Michigan south to Florida – and vice versa. A week or so ago, Bonnie and Don Foltz called to say they were heading home to Michigan after time in Ft. Myers over the winter.
“Could we stop by to see you for a couple of hours?” Bonnie asked.
“What about a couple of days?” I said.
“Wish we could, but we’ll be leaving Fort Myers at three in the morning, and we want to make my brother’s house in North Carolina by nightfall.” Bonnie answered.
They arrived around 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning, looking fresh (Bonnie especially, since Don said she’d been sleeping most of the way).
Bonnie and Don were caretakers for one of the Bluff cottages for 20 years and have now retired to spend their summers watching the grandchildren grow up in their home south of the Island. We all became good friends over the years on the Island, and we’re hoping they’ll be visiting often this summer!
The day after Bonnie called about stopping off here, we heard from Jane Winston, whose family has a home on the Island, but who lives just an hour north of our lake place in Georgia. We’ve traveled up I-75 a couple of times to watch Jane perform in plays produced by the Perry Players. She stays busier than we do (yes, she does), but she discovered a free afternoon on Saturday and took us up on a repeated invitation to come visit. She and her friend Don arrived just after lunch. It had rained all morning, and we thought it wasn’t going to clear up enough to get outside, but we got lucky!
We had an early dinner at The Old Inn, and Jane and Don started their hour-long trip back home. See you this summer, you two!
When Ted and I moved into our lake house back in 1996, one of the first couples we met were Kay and Joe McInvale, who had a weekend cottage two houses down from us. Joe and Kay lived in Albany then, but several years ago sold their home there, and made their ri’vah house their full-time residence. Kay is a retired nurse, and Joe is a retired Navy Commander. They have four wonderful daughters, and Donna, the oldest, and her husband and grandson visited us last summer on the Island, on the way to their summer cottage in Canada.
Over the years, Ted and Joe became great friends, and whenever Ted needed help with any project around the house, Joe was his “go-to” man. Joe is also an engineer and back in the day was the officer in charge of closing the Naval Air Station in Albany. When we’d be gone in the summers, we knew Joe kept a close eye on our house. We never had to worry with Mr. Joe on duty. After retirement, Kay stayed active by volunteering in the hospital where she had worked for many years in Albany.
Joe’s health began to decline a little over a year ago, and when it became apparent it was beginning to be a struggle for them to live on their own, the daughters stepped in and arranged for them both to move into an assisted living home in Atlanta, only a couple of miles from Donna’s home.
This morning we walked down to say “see you again soon” to Kay. Joe is already in their new home, and Kay, because of a recent illness, is just now going to join him. It’s been almost two months since they’ve seen each other, and Kay is anxious to get a big Mr. Joe hug. They talk often on the phone, but they’ve never been apart this long except when Joe was deployed.
The girls will bring them to the lake occasionally, and when we go to Atlanta, we can stop by to visit. But that’s not the same as knowing they’re right down the street. We will miss their light shining in the kitchen window when we get up each morning, and we’ll miss the American flag Joe always flew so proudly from their dock. He and Ted always watched out for each other’s flags, and Joe said his first glance each morning was down to our dock to see which way the wind was blowing, because his flag was hidden by the trees. We’ll miss calling Kay or walking down there to get her to look at some minor cut or bruise or burn we’ve suffered – to get her expert medical opinion. And even though they haven’t been able to do it lately, I hardly ever walked out the backdoor in the evening without glancing down to their dock to see if their “fishing” light was on. If it was, there they’d sit, side by side, bream poles resting against the dock railing – not really caring if they caught anything or not . . . but it seems they always did.
The neighborhood just won’t be the same without them, but, oh my gosh, there sure is going to be a sweet reunion in Atlanta tomorrow!
I guess I’m breaking my promise again, but I’ve only heard from a couple of readers with book suggestions. I’m going to give it a few more days, and we’ll have Book Club on Friday FOR SURE, even if I don’t hear from another soul (if you have suggestions, please email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org). In fact, I already know that Friday will be a “Journal Day”. There are lots of little things I’ve been saving up, and Friday will be a good day to put them all out there – including books!
Have a great week! God bless.