This was my grandparents’ place. They built it on weekends, closing their neighborhood bar in New Orleans and driving through the swamp across the little bridge to Slidell, taking a left on 190 to Mandeville. The 24-mile Causeway was not built yet, so this was the only way to arrive by car. My mother remembers the lake breezes and the quiet along the way. By the time I was around, my grandparents had lived there for some years in a little white box of a house, complete with a “mud room” which doubled as the kids sleeping area when we visited and tripled as my grandfather’s workroom. You might wake up to him working quietly at his counter on a plug or hear the screen door bang as he went through to outside. The land was cultivated with native trees and foliage by my grandmother. She’d wear dirty white boots and a work shirt of my grandfathers while outside, happily pruning and planting.
My mother took care of her parents until they died, still living there. She had no intention of moving in and yet was adamant that it not be sold. So, her retired husband would happily spend 3-4 days of work and rest there. After he died, it became my responsibility and at first, it was awkward to be among my very private grandparents’ things. I lived on top of it all, packing all of my things up each time to take with me. After a few months, I began to leave my books, painting rooms and moving furniture.
I now love it and while there, feel the connection to my family as I have never felt, even in their actual presence. My dog, Maddie, spent her last days there off that hated leash and lounging in the grass under the olive tree, as due a dog of her years and temperament.
My grandparents’ plates and plants and tools are now mine and incorporated with my nomadic collection of items. I hope this place lives past me and new belongings added with comfort extended to another generation.