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Korinthia Klein is a violin maker and the mother of three in Milwaukee WI. She, along with her husband run a violin store called Korinthian Violins. Korinthia also performs in her area with the Festival City Symphony and the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra. She currently teaches at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. A former Babble blogger, Klein currently continues to write on her personal website, The Quiet Corner.

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House of Dreams

By Korinthia Klein |

I miss my grandmother.  She died in November. I think of things every day that I wish I could share with her.  I want her to come help me make pie in my new kitchen that she never got to visit, and to hear about the people who come into my violin store.  I want to talk with her about books and movies.  I want her to see how much my kids have grown.

A few years ago, when she first had to be moved into a nursing home, her house had to be sold to help pay for her expenses.  This was a reasonable and logical step.  No one could argue with that, but it’s hard when the right thing hurts.  We want the right thing to feel positive, but that’s not always the case.  Sometimes the right thing feels wrong.

Since her house in Ohio was sold I have only been by it once.  I won’t do that again.  I just wanted to drive those familiar streets and see the place where I spent so many Christmas and Easter vacations as a child, the last place I ever saw my grandpa alive, the home where my parents got married and the first place that made my husband feel part of our family.  It was painful to see it and know I didn’t belong there anymore.  The house may remain, but the home I knew inside it is gone.

I know loss is part of life, and I know I am lucky to have had such a wonderful grandma at all.  I’m just not ready to let certain things completely go.  And the last place I still feel my grandma is at her cottage.

(Aden in 2009, standing on the steps my uncle built leading to the cottage porch.)

My grandparents had their cottage on the Western side of Michigan built back when I was in fifth grade.  My grandmother pored over dozens of house plans before she came across the perfect one.  The layout is such that you can comfortably live on one floor, (which they figured would be useful as they got older), but there is space to share with visitors upstairs.  It’s somehow cozy and spacious at the same time, and it’s the most relaxing place I know.   It’s a place for all the family to use, and the more people used it the happier it made my grandparents.

(Quinn and Mona jumping on and off the bed, cottage 2009)

Until my grandma became too frail to travel she used to spend a month up at the cottage every summer.  It’s been the site of family gatherings, weekend retreats, visits with friends, a big New Year’s Eve bash, and it’s where Ian and I spent our honeymoon.  My kids are crazy about the place, and when we go they catch frogs, play in the sand, and look for deer.  I love the cottage.  Everyone in our family loves the cottage.

But while talking to my mom recently, she mentioned the time had come to sell it.  The market is terrible in Michigan right now, so they didn’t expect to get too much, but the upkeep and the taxes and the fees have become a burden on the relatives who have been entrusted with it over these past few years.  It was time to let it go.

The thought of the cottage leaving the family broke my heart.  When I’m there, it’s home.  It’s timeless.  And my grandparents’ touch is in everything.  I don’t want someone else moving in and taking out the table and bookcase my grandpa made.  I don’t want the birds my grandma did in needlepoint to come off the wall.  I want her chair to stay where it is, and the oars to the rowboat hanging in the garage and the ancient collection of board games to be in the utility closet.  I want the cottage to stay the cottage.  I want the cottage.

(My kids at the same little beach where my brothers and cousins and I played)

Ian and I aren’t rich by any stretch, but we are careful with our money and we work hard.  And one of the things I love about my husband is he makes my dreams come true.  That sounds sappy and weird, I know, but it’s the truth.  If it weren’t for him we would not have the home we have, I would not have my own business, and the proof that I’m with the right person is in the smiling faces of my children.  I can’t ask for more.  And yet, when Ian saw how sad I was that the cottage was for sale, he pulled out his laptop and crunched some numbers, and said he thought we could afford to buy it ourselves.

It’s impractical, it’s expensive, it will probably be complicated…. But the worst case scenario in my mind is we try owning it, it proves to be too much, and we sell it ourselves down the road when Michigan’s economy improves.  In the meantime at the very least it buys the whole family a few more years of playing at the lake, walking the trails, and making s’mores under stars while the leaves of the poplar trees rustle like rain.

I think that would have pleased my grandparents very much.  I know it pleases me.

(Quinn at the lake)

 

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About Korinthia Klein

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Korinthia Klein

Korinthia Klein is a violin maker and the mother of three in Milwaukee WI. She, along with her husband run a violin store called Korinthian Violins. Korinthia also performs in her area with the Festival City Symphony and the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra. She currently teaches at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. A former Babble blogger, Klein currently continues to write on her personal website, The Quiet Corner. Read bio and latest posts → Read Korinthia's latest posts →

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10 thoughts on “House of Dreams

  1. Amy says:

    Congrats on becoming cottage owners! As I was reading, I really hoped it was going to end the way it did. Here is to many more wonderful memories at the cottage!

  2. Rosstwinmom says:

    I’m so glad for you. We moved around so much when I was little that we have no home base. Home is where my mom and dad are. Try as hard as you can to keep that place for the kids! You can’t replace things like that.

  3. SarahB says:

    Oh, that’s wonderful. And that it is the upside to the bad real estate market right now…it’s a chance for you to keep it in the family. I know so many people in bad real estate situations, it heartens me to see someone with an opportunity.

  4. SNSinNC says:

    I’m so glad you did! I love that my husband makes my dreams come true, too – it doesn’t sound weird at all. It sounds like a wonderful place – I hope it stays in your family for many generations of memories to come.

  5. Carol says:

    I’m sure you have friends who’d be happy to rent a week’s use from you…wink wink wink. :)

  6. Peg says:

    I am totally someone who places a lot of sentimental value on things and places. Renting my sister’s house has been really hard on all of us. Emotionally would could barely rent it let alone sell it. It’s the only place left we all feel like they are still with us.

    I love that Ian did this for you and your whole family. I always know in my head what a great guy my husband is, but it’s nice to get such a tangible reminder. It’s also nice when you realize that your spouse feels so close to your own family.

    Enjoy the cottage! What a beautifully written post.

  7. Amy Lee says:

    I am so happy for you. I know there are just some places that are home and it is so unbearable to see them be home to someone else. I’m glad this special place will stay yours and be there for your children in the future.

  8. Beth says:

    My grandparents had a cabin that they helped thier parents build. I spent summers there as a child. They sold it when I was 14. As I write this I can remember the smell of the wooden logs. 20 years later I still fantasize about buying it. This story made me happy you get to keep your dream house.

  9. Voice Of Reason says:

    I always love your family’s stories and I think I especially love how much your Ian reminds me of my Michael. Such good men. This is just a lovely, lovely post on so many levels. Thank you for writing it.

  10. Carol says:

    I do understand the attachment. My grandparent’s house is where everyone went for holidays and where my mother and her 4 sisters grew up. My aunts have decided that, after Grampa dies, the house will not be sold to the developer that’s been eyeballing it for years….instead it will be donated to the local fire department for a practice burn. Our family would prefer gathering together one last time to watch it go up in flames than to watch it demolished and carted off to the landfill. I’m sure there will be tears….and wine to drink a toast (no pun intended) to new memories.

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