We have a lake cottage in central Wisconsin where we spend most of the summer. It is actually a bit more than a cottage now that we have, over the years we’ve been here, remodeled and rebuilt it from the foundation up. Now it is quite livable as small houses go and we are content that we have it pretty much the way we want it now.
Over the years (we’ve been here twenty years now) we have come to learn some of the history of the place. It must be over ten years ago that a car pulled into the driveway and an elderly couple got out. She was driving since her husband was blind. They explained that they were the original owners of the place and had in fact built it. She went on to tell her husband that the huge swamp maple tree that he had planted was growing strong along the shoreline providing much needed afternoon shade. Having been an electrician, he was proud of the job he had done wiring the place. We got the feeling that this was a last visit they would make and were just renewing old memories knowing that they would probably never get by this way again. Kind of sad, but life goes on.
A couple years ago another car entered the driveway, delivering yet another former resident of our little cottage. This time there were two youngish couples, the two women sisters, and the two men the current boyfriends. The women explained that they had grown up here in the late 70’s and into the eighties as kids and teenagers. They were all very friendly and we invited them in to show off the place and let them reminisce about their time here as a family. Their parents had bought the cottage from the elderly couple we met earlier. We all hit it off and had a nice visit with them. One of the women, a veterinarian who still lived not too far away, even sent us some pictures she had of the place showing us what it was like when they inhabited it. We have since seen her and her now husband a couple more times since that initial visit.
That family then sold the place to he guy we bought it from. He had bought it as an investment, spending the necessary money to modernize it a bit with some selective remodeling. That was twenty years ago and that brings us to the present. We have basically rebuilt everything, maintaining the original footprint of the cottage. Needless to say it is quite a bit different now than it was for the previous owners. Just the lot alone has changed completely with the addition of a garage and total relandscaping of the property. Yet it still bears some of the original feeling to it, which is why we have gotten a somewhat strange request from the vet and her family.
Recently her father passed away. Her mother, now in her eighties, has asked that she be allowed to spread some of her husband’s ashes on the property where they, as a family, had spent so much time together. At first there was a decided “ick” factor on our part, but then after some thought, we were somewhat flattered that they felt comfortable enough with us to make the request in the first place. So we have told them that we would be honored to have them visit and leave a bit of the husband/father behind.
Have we done the right thing? Were they out of place to make the request in the first place? It’s kind of a sticky question. But now that we have committed to the spreading of his ashes, we can’t rescind the invitation. I just hope that I don’t have to think about desecrating him every time I am cutting the grass or pulling a weed.