Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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Goodbye to cabin in woods

My grandmother’s ghost is here.

I can feel her as she floats above the North Fork Big Thompson River rushing below and as she soars above the towering spruces in the glow of the full moon.

This place, nestled along the North Fork and several miles from the hustle and bustle of Estes Park, CO, was special to her and my grandfather.

They became familiar with the area when my grandfather traveled there with college friends. He and my grandmother later honeymooned in Estes in 1927, vowing to buy a place if the money ever became available.

It did and, in 1958, my grandparents christened their new cabin “The Jug.”

Our family drove up every summer for pancakes on the porch, a trip to Trout Haven in Estes, swims in the frigid Big Thompson, nightly showers with a peeping mouse and endless play with rubber tomahawks and spears my brother and I finagled my parents into buying from a tourist shop.

By the late 1970s, my grandfather was no longer in this world and my father and aunt bought a larger cabin just around the bend from “The Jug.” They named it “The Spruces.”

The second cabin is where some of their children spent their honeymoon, where grandchildren played in the generous yard and where we made sugar water to hang in feeders for the hummingbirds.

Through the years, we all trudged down the dusty road to Glen Haven for cinnamon rolls at the General Store and, for the more adventuresome, to Buckskin Bo’s for horseback rides up the mountain.

Last weekend, my parents and I took pictures from the walls, tools from the garage, a rocking chair and other items and packed them in the car.

New owners have bought the property and will move in next month.

I feel empty and sad.

At this moment, I want to hold on to the cabin and the family relationships forged there, instead of allowing them to teach me about farewells.

Yet our lives have cycles that are as natural as the ebb and flow of the tide or the waning and waxing of the moon. All are valid, according to writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

For me, accepting this change with willingness is the challenge.

That will come and go.

Just like my grandmother’s ghost.


“Every arrival foretells a leave-taking: every birth a death. Yet each death and departure comes to us as a surprise, a sorrow never anticipated. Life is a long series of farewells; only the circumstances should surprise us.”—Jessamyn West