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A ‘Grand’ weekend

Do you remember the last weekend of Summer when you were growing up?  It was always a sad day for me.  I vividly remember walking home from the school playground on a late Sunday afternoon.  The Newmans, who lived a couple of houses down, often had Indian Cane growing in their yard.  I chewed on it every year as I headed home, somewhat of a ritual of the passing of another Summer.

This past weekend was the last day of Summer for many of the schools in our area.  In my day it was closer to Labor Day.  Now that schools and buses have air-conditioning, classes start earlier.  It is hard to think of Summer being over when the temperature today was 95 degrees.  The heat index, which did not exist in my childhood, was in triple digits as it has been for the past couple of weeks.

Nevertheless, we took the opportunity to take all four of our grandchildren to Compass Lake to celebrate the end of Summer.   The parents were welcome but chose to take advantage of a free weekend without children.  A win-win situation for everyone involved.

It is hard to describe how special this weekend turned out.  Of course, we ate only kid-friendly food, like hot dogs, hamburgers, mac and cheese, lots of pancakes, chips and dip, and an amazing Oreo chocolate delight desert.

We visited the nearby ice cream shop and learned that ordering a three scoop cone is not a great idea in the middle of a heat wave.    The older kids swam and tubed for hours and Andrew, the youngest, went back and forth between the deep water and the sandy beach.  

We sat on the porch and watched an incredible thunderstorm, calculating how far each lightning strike was from our cottage.  The kids salvaged an iron swing that blew off the dock last Spring.  They found it in 10 feet of water and worked together to get it back on the dock.

The biggest improvement in their game skills this year was with a Frisbee.  By the end of the weekend, they were throwing the disc from the dock to targets on shore.   Before long they may be tossing them from one jet ski to another.

The Summer’s biggest addition was a basketball goal that sits on the dock while the kids shoot from the water.  The kids played for hours at a time only getting out of the water to put on sunscreen again and again at their grandparents’ insistence.  

While these memories were wonderful, they were not what I will cherish about this weekend.  I will remember the older kids playing together in the water at night, then sitting on the dock and talking for hours.  There is something so special about cousins sharing their lives and growing up together.   Their age differences are not so important when they are just hanging out.  

We took a day cruise and a night cruise.  The unanimous vote was they liked it better at night.  I am sure the temperature had something to do with that choice.  

They were perfectly behaved, helped with the dishes, took out the garbage, put the toys back in the storage building and respected each other’s wishes when it came to which movie to watch.  For the first time, I was not a chaperone or substitute parent.  Mary Lou and I were observers of the growing bonds between our grandkids.  We are so proud of them all. 

I have wonderful memories of growing up with my cousins and friends on the water.  For the first time, I felt like this weekend was a memory my grandchildren will talk about long after I am gone.  It was a “Grand” weekend, indeed.


Dan Ponder can be reached at

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