So last century

A hundred years ago, or so the story goes, my grandmother and her cousins used to gather at a great big house on Lake Erie.  They would spend their days laughing and playing at the lake, and gather at mealtimes for big dinners together.  There was a large yard, a small pier, and many minature rooms in this house, each just big enough to hold a bed and chair.  When the sun had set, the families would retire to sleep, in as many rooms as that great old house could hold, and one tacked on back above the kitchen, called the sleeping porch.

Twenty years ago, my parents brought us to the same house, still owned by distant relatives, and we met my own cousins there for some last-century fun.  We walked out on the pier.  We played badminton in the yard.  We cooked barbecue together, and we all retired to the great big house to sleep.  I slept, as I imagined my grandmother had, on a lumpy old mattress on the screened-in sleeping porch.

All these years later, I still remember lying there, where my grandmother and mother had slept before me, listening to the sounds of all that family settling down to sleep, and then the hush of the crickets, the brightness of the full moon, and the delicious breeze that wafted in over me as I snuggled in to sleep.

There, in that new-old house, I felt safe, and surrounded by love.  It is a memory I will never forget.

18 Responses to So last century

  1. Sarah S. says:

    What a wonderful memory to have! It is funny how those little memories pop up once and a while.

  2. Susan K says:

    So when are you taking your boys?

    Isn’t it amazing how comforting memories can be? Frequently, when we get into the car after swim class, with soggy towels and suits dumped in the back, there is a smell in the car. Damp carpet? Drying towels? I don’t know what the smell IS, but it smells like “Lake Cottage”. When I was a kid we often, but not every summer, rented a cottage up north for two weeks. It was a different cottage every year, on the same lake. And that smell, for whatever reason, takes me back there. To rowing the boat down the lake to the spring, where we collected the drinking/teeth brushing water in big plastic jugs. To digging the “clay” by the side of the lake and making things that we let dry in the sun. To putting pennies on the train tracks and retrieving them once flattened. To the hikes along the tracks, picking berries. To the trip into town where we bought “Black Cat bubble gum”. It was black and tasted kind of like licorice -which I hate, but somehow that gum was great. I hope I am making memories like that for my girls.

  3. Mary says:

    Hi WhyMommy,
    I stumbled on your site by pure coincidence. I was looking for activities to do with my 15 months old twins in DC. And then I started reading your story. I lost a good friend to IBC. They diagnosed her way too late and were way to slow to treat her. Now, I wanted to thank you. Reading your post helped me understand her and what she went through. I am impressed by your cheerfulness combined with the total seriousness.
    I’ll pray that the cancer doesn’t knock on your door twice. We have kids the same age, I can’t possibly fathom what you went through. I can only imagine how you felt.
    Many hugs,

  4. I grew up in Erie and spent many a summer hanging out by the lake. My family has since moved away but we are still close to water. Our new family traditions include spending alot of time at the beach in Sunny, FL…something that my daughters, nieces, and nephew will remember and want to do with their families in the distant future.

  5. BetteJo says:

    What a lovely memory – everyone should have some memories of sleeping in a big old family home. Something very sweet and very safe about it.

  6. Kacy says:

    Yes the days of yesterday were the good days where children had a childhood. Laughter is proof enough

  7. Kacy says:

    Yes the days of yesterday were the good days where children had a childhood. Laughter is proof enough

  8. Christy says:

    What an incredibly lovely memory to have and hold onto…I hope that one day my daughter has something like that she can reflect on.

  9. It’s such a beautiful and comforting memory – the sense of family all around as we settle to sleep.

  10. Betsy Henning says:

    It sounds like….home!…..Is the house still there? Could you come and check…’round ’bout the 2nd week of August…and visit us for the cousin’s reunion??? Think about it!

  11. kankie says:

    Just walked to the mailbox and grabbed my Health magazine. The cover had..The CANCER a mammo can’t catch…but you can. I thought to myself…ok, I know about IBC cause of Toddler Planet…now is there something else??

    Then I saw you, and I smiled cause your story is creating more awareness. Thank you for being so honest and open about your journey and your support in women’s health.

  12. Sandy says:

    I received my copy of HEALTH magazine today.
    It has a great five page article on Fighting the cancer a mammo can’t catch . It is about Susan. Has pictures of Susan and her son and a picture of Susan with her husband. I will be reading and sharing my copy of HEALTH magazine. This is a freebee magazine I have a subscription to and my first copy.
    I was glancing through the pages and I thought I know that lady. Here is another way Susan has shared her life story.

  13. Martha Cubbage says:

    Hello Susan,
    I believe seeing your article in the June issue of Health magazine this morning was no accident. Monday morning of this week I woke up from a dreamlike state thinking I had felt something abnormal in my left breast. I had the overwhelming sense that I needed to see my doctor fast. I finally saw him Wed. afternoon and he mentioned concern about IBC. I had my last annual mammogram in Sept 2007 and am 51 years old. I am scheduled for a mammogram Tuesday, 5/27 to begin diagnostics. My biggest question at the moment is how was yours diagnosed? Ultrasound, needle biopsy, etc? I live in a small rural community in SW Missouri, so if I am facing IBC I will need to seek treatment
    elsewhere. I am encouraged by your optimism and article. I am hopeful and scared at the same time. Thankful to have found your website. Please advise.

  14. Mom24 says:

    We go to a place called Lakeside, Ohio every year. I could so relate to your post. We stay in a different house each year, but there’s something so peaceful and comforting in the sights and smells there. I know the memories for my kids will always be full of the sense of being safe and surrounded by love there.

  15. Gail says:

    Saw the article in June Health magazine. I am so pleased to have this kind of information about IBC in a popular press – information that can save lives through a correct and timely diagnosis. While it is still a rare occurrence, it is so often not diagnosed or misdiagnosed.

    I was diagnosed in November 1993 after being treated for over a month for a “breast infection”. I am one of the lucky ones. November will be 15 years for me. How fortunate I am. I was 52 when diagnosed. It was 6 or 7 years before I talked to someone who had survived IBC for a longer period of time. Survival is possible. I’m evidence of that. What joy to be around for the birth of two grandchildren – a girl who is three and a boy 9 months.

    All the best to you. thanks for sharing your experiences.


  16. whymommy says:

    Whoo-hoo! I haven’t seen the article yet, but I’m glad that it’s out there! Thanks for your great comments — I hope this site helps somebody!

    And yes, I’m going to email Martha right away.

  17. whymommy says:


    A mammogram will tell them where to look on the breast MRI, but it will likely not show the cancer. IBC doesn’t typically show up on a mammogram, which is part of the tricky part about it. An ultrasound is helpful, but for definitive diagnosis, you’ll need a breast MRI and/or biopsy. Both a skin (“punch”) biopsy and a core biopsy, or several, will be necessary; the samples will then be examined in the lab to look for cancer cells.

    If it is cancer, there will be more tests. I am not a medical doctor, but here’s a link to the tests that I had, and what to expect: It can be a tense time, but easier if you can have a friend or family member go to the tests with you. Good luck — I’ll be thinking of you — please come back and tell us how it went!


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