Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Take Me Back Tuesdays: Fireside Inn

From the ages of 4 through 30 (except the two summers when I took the New York and Michigan bar exams), during the third week of June, you could find me at the Fireside Inn on Grand Lake in Michigan. As a child, my life was measured in Fireside. Each year defined by what happened at Fireside.
Fireside Inn is not a luxury resort. There are no maids to make your bed every day. You even have to carry your towels to the laundry area and grab clean ones each day. But it is the best vacation place I can think of . . ., mostly because of family.

My maternal grandma, the original Ma, found this place back in the late 1970s. None of her children could afford to vacation on their own. (For instance, my parents were in the early twenties with two very young children. They owned their own house, two cars, and were both in college at night while working full-time during the day. Vacations were not something in the budget.) But my grandmother wanted all of us to vacation with her so she could see us and spend time with us, so she paid for all of us to go (of those who wanted to--my grandma had 13 children and at the time most of them were married with children, but some were still in high school).

And so it began. My entire family would travel 6 hours up north. Each family would have their own cabin. Grandma would have a room on the porch. And we'd have fun for a week together. All of us together: cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandma. Eventually, family friends started to join. My parental grandparents came. My maternal cousins' grandparents came. There are 18 cabins at Fireside and at some point, my family and their friends and family occupied almost all of them.

Back then, activities ranged from swimming, fishing, paddle boating, tennis, tether ball, volley ball, billiards, ping pong, board games, and whatever else you could bring or imagine. We'd take walks through the woods, put on plays, arrange family olympics, costume day. We did it all and we loved it.
At nights, we'd have bonfires with smores and hot dogs. Our parents would play poker through the night. We'd look at stars and I've even seen the Northern Lights from there.
Despite only spending one week a year there, I feel like I grew up at Fireside.
The trees are familiar and like home.
Eventually, I brought my husband to share in the experience (although, he wasn't my husband yet in the picture below--you can tell because he has no beard).
We created memories at Fireside, like days spent with my paternal grandma before she started to really forget all of us. Memories with my nephews. (Fireside was the only time I got to spend a week straight with them since they live in another state.)
I got to spend a lot of quality time with my parents and the rest of my family, just talking and playing games. It was amazing.
As the years went by, we continued to create memories. (As you can see from the picture, the Mad Scientist had a beard, so we were now married!)
We swam. We played. We enjoyed the days without worry or work.
We ate the best pancakes ever. I've been trying to find their rival down state to no avail.
Eventually, we even brought our baby TRex to Fireside. (He tried to escape our cabin to get to the lake.)
We have great memories taking TRex to Fireside, but he won't ever remember it. He was not even one when we last went.
The Dancing Queen was born before our next trip to Fireside. And when we learned that she was going to be hospitalized and have surgery right after being born, we cancelled our reservations for 2008, but we made more for 2009. 

In 2009, we couldn't go because DQ had surgery again and we had to take so much time off of work for that and all of DQ's hospitalizations. In 2010, we had similar problems. Of course, during that time, the economy went to hell and less of my family attended each year because of the economy. This year, nobody from our family went to Fireside. The tradition has died and a little part of me has died as well. 
I hope to start another tradition some day with at least my sister's family and my parents, but it likely won't be at Fireside as that is too far from the Editor. And it will never be the same because the entire extended family will never be together like they once were. I mourn the fact that my children will never have the experience that I had growing up at Fireside Inn.

Do you have a place that holds your heart?


  1. How neat that it is such a family tradition for all of you.

    I see you are writing stuff on all of your photos. Has someone been taking your pics?

  2. That's so cool that your so much of your family went for so many years. How lucky!

    I hope you are able to come up with a new tradition that your kids will be able to look back on with the same fondness you have for Fireside.


Having a child with a CHD is like being given an extra sense---the true ability to appreciate life. Each breath, each hug, each meal is a blessing when you've watched your child live off a ventilator, trapped in an ICU bed, being fed through a tube. Each minute is a miracle when you've watched your child almost die and come back to you.
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