Archived Story

Lindsey Cloutier: Dad’s last trip to the family cottage

Published 10:20am Thursday, June 6, 2013

By Lindsey Cloutier

My stepfather told my sister and I many times in the last several years that when he passed away, he wanted to be “cremated and taken to the family cottage in Bitely, Michigan.”
That was coincidence No. 1.
Last November at the young age of 55, he passed away suddenly, suffering a massive heart attack and leaving a similarly massive void in our family.
This past weekend, as a family, we were able to carry out his wish to return to the cottage for the final time.
The plan was solidified late Friday night. We would leave Saturday morning by 9 and arrive to the cottage at noon. My husband and I would meet my sister’s family, and Dad’s two brothers and sister-in-law in Bitely.
Dad always haggled Dan and I about the inevitable wrong turn we made in Grand Rapids, resulting in us taking the very scenic route. Many kudos were given in our car when we precisely navigated a mess of a detour and finally found the correct exit! Dad was guiding us.
A large movie theater tucked in the corner of that exit gave me deja vu from my childhood, and making the trip up with Dad, passing the same theater. Emotions ran high as the task ahead truly set in.
Our coffee consumption advised a quick stop was needed before the final hour of travel, a random Citgo was deemed acceptable.
Coincidence No. 2 came when we pulled into the parking spot right next to my sister. I needed her and a hug right then, and Dad knew that. Into the gas station we went, so we could get back on the road.
Coming out of the gas station, I was greeted with coincidence No. 3.
At that moment, the caravan of Dad’s brothers and sister-in-law stopped at that very same Citgo. The last hour of the trip garnered both laughter and tears as I thought of Dad’s timing bringing us all together.
He was quite the jokester, and I know this was a good laugh for him.
Well played, Dad, well played.

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