Today it began to sink into my heart. My inlaws accepted an offer on their rural, on the lake, Tennessee house and will move to my town soon, even within the month. They may even stay with my family while searching for a new house in our area.
We have prayed for God’s will to be done for seven years concerning the sale of their house. They have wanted to move near us, but their house would not sell. Their house had been placed with various realty companies with no results until now. In June, a family from the west coast of the USA began to show interest in buying their home. After several weeks of uncertainty, they now have a closing date in early September.
I am beyond happy for them. They are in good health and want to not only be closer to our family who lives six hours east of them, but also to be closer to doctors, shopping, etc. They have driven the old, curvy, bumpy country road for 20 years to get to the lake house which they built. Before their house was built, they drove those same roads to reach Mamaw and Papaw’s house on the lake. Mamaw and Papaw were the parents of my father-in-law who are now in heaven. These roads have led to happy memories and weeks of fun at the lake.
It was at Mamaw and Papaw’s lake house that my husband and his brother learned to fish, to swim, to knee board and to waterski in my father-in-law’s blue boat in the 1970s. Other extended family lived close by around the lake so not only would the lake provide rest and relaxation for my husband as a little boy, but also provided a place for family to gather and eat out on the porch. I had the privilege of visiting the lake for the first time 25 years ago this summer around July 4th. It was then that I realized what a special situation this lake provided for aunts, uncles and cousins to visit with each other and their grandparents. I also learned to love fried Crappie (known as “Croppy” on the lake) fish caught in the lake and hushpuppies out on the porch!
Since my husband’s grandparents lived on the lake, my inlaws decided to retire and build their lake house on the lake. It is located about 10 minutes from the other family compound which I’ve mentioned. My inlaws’ house was built 20 years ago on a lovely lake cove which provides a perfect swimming spot off of their boat dock. Their blue boat is still found in the dock along with their Pontoon Boat. It was always worth every minute to drive the six hours through the N.C. mountains to reach Tennessee then arrive at their location. We’d eat biscuits and gravy that my inlaws would prepare then spend all day laying on floats, playing on the noodles, fishing, pulling our children in the tubes behind the boats and just having a blast.
As I have reflected on all of the memories that I have made at this lake house, I wanted to share some of the highlights. First, my parents and I celebrated Thanksgiving at the lake house in November of 1996 once the house was finished and before my husband and I were married. After our Thanksgiving meal, we announced to the family that we were engaged! We had kept this news a secret since early November of that same year. Joy erupted around the dining room table as we hugged and shared how he proposed. We shared the plans that we had started to make about our upcoming wedding which we planned for the following summer. The following Spring, my inlaws held a Family Wedding Shower for us at their lake house where both sides of my inlaws’ family came in some cases from three hours away.
After our honeymoon, we stayed at the lake house with my inlaws for a week before moving to a new town for us for my husband to start Veterinary school. It was during this time that we would visit with them at holidays and during the summer, but due to my teaching job and my husband’s responsibilities as a full time student, my inlaws visited us more than we could visit them. They began to drive from Tennessee on I-40 around the curvy roads even detouring many times due to road closures from boulders which had fallen. We always enjoyed their visits but their journey took close to eight hours.
Little did we know in December of 1998 that it would be our final Christmas with my husband’s brother. I’ve shared the story in another blog post, but wanted to mention here that it was in the lake house where we would cry together and fall apart. Tears would flow and our hearts broke to pieces. I did not want to leave my inlaws in the winter of 1999 when we had to finally go back to our home eight hours away after having my brother-in-law’s funeral. I only know well my journey of grief. I cannot possibly know all the despair that my inlaws felt, but I do know that they worked through their grief at the lake house. They began to do upgrades to the house and yard. They worked so hard and are talented in building things. It has not surprised me that they have rebuilt their new normal in this lake house. Their home is filled with beautiful photographs of their children and my children. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God has worked to bring a peace that only He can give while living in the lake house.
During the summer of 2001 when we visited their lake house, I sat with my husband on their lower back porch in a double wooden swing. We discussed if we were ready to consider having our own children. He had just finished Vet School and we were moving to a new town which would be only six hours away from my inlaws’ lake house while being just two hours away from my parents. I became pregnant later in the year. I was so glad for our talk on that swing at the lake house. We had discussed this very important topic, but all I can think of when I see that swing is “The Talk” where we made plans for God to make us parents. My family has enjoyed coming to visit each summer and swimming in the lake. There’s nothing like not going anywhere except the back yard and lake for a week. I feel privileged to have been a part of this particular lake house for 20 years.
Just this past weekend, my inlaws celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in a large town which was an hour away. They renewed their vows and visited with long time family and friends. It was bittersweet to see all of their family members in one place. I knew that in some strange way, this was a time to not only rejoice in the memories of the past, but to look to the future at all that God has planned for their marriage and our family. I am also in awe of how the details have fallen into place and continue to happen as they prepare for their move.
I gave my mother-in-law a plaque with Psalms 23: 1-3 on it when they moved to the lake house 20 years ago. It reads as follows: “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” I think that these waters have done their job. They have allowed my inlaws time and space to fish, to go out on the boat and watch the sun set over the mountains in the distance and to rejoice in the present. They have journeyed over and over to our home for holidays, birthday celebrations, recitals, Church and School Choral and Drama productions and are ready now to not have to make the six hour journey. They want to move to our town or one close by so that they can be near us.
My family has again floated on the lake during this past week. Tomorrow, we plan to go back to our house. As far as I know, this drive out to the main road will be the last one that we take when leaving their house. I have experienced sadness this week to know that this era of my life and my inlaws’ life will be ending, but rejoiced in knowing that they are now in a position to live out the rest of their lives near to us. We just came in from our final boat ride a few hours ago. As we left the dock, the skies were overcast. After sightseeing at new construction around the lake, we returned with light rain falling. The sky feels like me. I have cried and will probably cry some more. I will miss this lake house.
I have pictures of moments at the lake from the last 25 years. Just recently I found some pictures of my first times attempting to knee board at the lake 20 years ago. I remember how some of the fireworks fell near the blue boat on July 4th one year. I will never forget the time when a storm just blew in with no warning when we were out on the water with our first born who was a baby. The lightning and thunder scared me, but I remember holding my child close to my heart praying for a safe return to the lake house. We made it back without incident. I remember how God has protected us and used the time we’ve had at the lake to restore all of our souls.
God led my inlaws beside of the lake waters and is now leading them on to greener pastures. I am looking forward to seeing the next chapter of all of our lives unfold. Goodbye Lake House.