Summer is the time of family reunions. Incidentally, just before my hip surgery, we had a family reunion of sorts on my mother’s side on the occasion of my beloved uncle’s sudden death. Of course the intent wasn’t a family reunion, but funerals do bring people together. On the day after the memorial service, following a cousin’s directions, my siblings and I went in search of our maternal grandparents former property in Lapeer, Michigan. We found it, and the current owner, who’d met other family members before and actually bought the property from our grandmother in the ’80s, kindly showed us around. Since it is the very property featured in my story The Tractor, I thought I’d share what the place actually looks like these days.
I remembered the driveway as much longer but then again, I was an eight-year-old kid when I visited!
According to the current owner, our grandfather put in these steps, and he also planted the elm tree, which now is unique in the area as survived a tree disease that took down almost all the other elms.
Subsequent to me publishing this blog post, my cousin Bob sent me this image from 1969, featuring a family cookout when my dad (in the middle with the checkered shirt) was visiting from Germany. True to form, my dad is holding a tumbler of whiskey, while my Uncle Bill, with whom he is talking, holds a cigarette, and my Uncle Bob is at the grill. I am updating this post as I think it’s great fun to see the before in action! You can even see the young elm tree in the background. It surely did well over the intervening 49 years!
My grandparents A-frame house, painstakingly built by my grandfather and my uncles, stood at this spot where the current owner now has his vegetable garden.
Here’s the pond the A-Frame looked down upon. I remember it from when I was there as a kid. Beyond it, you can see the blue of the lake between the green of the trees. It was amazing to me back then that my grandparents’ property included part of that lake. Sadly, my grandfather died two years after my visit from a fatal accident playing ice hockey on that pond.
After touring the property and reminiscing, we drove to the nearby cemetery and were happy to actually find our grandparents’ grave. My sister had visited there before one time in the winter, when the ground was frozen over, and it had been impossible to locate a grave if you didn’t know exactly where it was.
Not only was it special to visit this site from my past, with which I associate the only meaningful memory I have of my American grandparents, but it was also a special gift to do so with my siblings. The same goes for honoring my grandparents’ memory with a visit to their grave.