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The Cottage

December 1, 2014

By Mary Beth Wighton
A few days ago, My Girls and I packed up the car, jumped in and headed off for an adventure. We love adventures, and this was one we had been looking forward to for a number of weeks. Our destination was Miller Lake located up in the beautiful Bruce Peninsula. My friend, Sue, has a family cottage right on the lake. We planned on staying up for two nights with her and her husband Pete.

Sue and I have been friends since grade six. That means 34 years. It's an easy friendship where at times we can go for a long period of time without chatting with each other. Just recently, we have rekindled our relationship and have picked up where we left off.

Our relationship goes back to a time of childhood – prior to our significant others and children. It was a carefree time of riding bikes, playing endless card games, fishing and swimming. As we grew up, our lives naturally changed as we met our soul mates, became parents and followed our careers.

A few months ago, Sue reached out to me as she had heard I have been diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). Sometimes, it can be unnerving to reach out to someone who has dementia and is newly diagnosed. You do not always know what to expect or say. Sue was unfazed and was open to education. That's a true friend.

During our last visit, we scheduled a time to visit Sue and Pete at the cottage. A few days ago, we arrived at Miller Lake. It had been over 30 years since I was last there. As Dawn pulled into the driveway, I immediately recognized the cottage and was brought back to being a little girl. I could see Sue and I running for the cottage door and opening it up to begin our adventures at the cottage. 

Recently, I was asked what ways my memory is affected, long and short-term. During our visit with Sue and Pete, it was evident to all how intact my long-term memory is. Short-term memory... not so much. I easily recalled those days so long ago. I remember the chopping of wood, pumping water, names of roads, the fruitless efforts of many fishing trips, furniture, and Sue making a turkey. In comparison, while updating her contact list, Sue confirmed with me my address. Although I haven't been there for five years, I acknowledged it was a correct current address. Dawn helped in supplying the proper one.

During our stay, the weather was very cool and the wind was strong. It was not good boating weather as white caps crashed against the beach. But that didn't matter. We enjoyed lounging by the fire, napping and of course eating. Shiloh and | spent some wonderful time on the dock just taking in the beauty of Miller Lake. He also had quite a workout swimming against the waves as he retrieved the stick I had thrown.

The highlight of our holiday occurred on our second evening. The weather had calmed down and the lake became still. Brianna and Pete decided it was a good time to fish and off they went to troll the waters. Two hours later, they came back into the cottage in great spirits. Both had caught a large fish with pictures to prove it. For the next bit, the energy in the cottage was charged as we heard the retelling of their fish tales.

Earlier that day, Brianna had commented to me how wonderful it was to be in a place I enjoyed as a child. It was something that she treasured me sharing with her. For a few days, Brianna and Dawn had a taste of my carefree childhood days. They relished in it and it acted like a salve helping to repair any open wounds.

I am reminded of “silver and gold friends.” Sue and Peter are gold nuggets. They have assisted me and my family to live with dignity and embrace the day. I know they will be there to help us charter through life’s choppy waters and find a peaceful area for us to once again sail through our journey of life.