small green and black cottage on shore of lake with beautiful garden in frontFamily, memories, and a bright light that shines on

Our family cottage is located in a remote area of Ontario and has been in our family for the past 77 years.

When my grandfather originally built the cottage it was during wartime and it was built out of whatever materials were available at the time. Since then, a second cottage was added by my father to accommodate his growing family. That was 32 years ago, and a lot has changed since then.

My father has since passed on and family has spread out across the country. We still consider it a family cottage because of all the memories held within the walls of these two buildings that sit on the lake and surrounding property. We gather at different times of the year to spend precious time together as a family and to remember those who are gone but not forgotten.

Sitting directly between these two family cottages is a beautiful garden that has a special significance. It is the resting place for my son Burton Reimer, the great-grandson of my grandfather and grandmother who built the original cottage and the grandson of my father and mother who built the second cottage.

My son Burton had a special connection to the lake and spending time here with his family. The grandchildren would come out to the lake with grandma and grandpa for the summer months and spend time with their cousins and close family and friends.

Five generations can now call this very special place their “family cottage.”

This is a sacred place for those of us who grew up out at the lake and share a kinship with the people, the lake, and the land.

When a workplace fatality ended the young life of my 17-year-old son Burton there was no doubt about where he would want to be buried. It was not something you plan ahead of time and it happened very organically.

We knew he wanted to be buried out at the cottage and a location was selected on the property.  My father, Burton Sr.  took the death of his grandson very hard and assumed the task of hand carving the headstone for Burton’s garden grave-site. He did a beautiful job, and I’m sure that it was also very therapeutic for him.

My task was to pick out the location and to dig the hole where his ashes would be buried. Other people helped out and with various items such as hand-painted stones and specific flowering bushes for the garden.

candle and flowers rest above headstone that reads Burton Reimer 6-13-82 - 10-23-99The date was set and a small group of family and fellow cottagers gathered around as we placed Burton’s ashes in the ground. We said a prayer for Burton as we all gathered to remember him and support each other in our shared loss of this wonderful human being taken from us too soon.

That was 19 years ago and the garden has grown and changed with each passing year. Shrubs have been added and removed. New soil has been brought in and weeds have been kept down to a minimum.

This is the place we come to physically remember Burton. It is a place where we can spend time caring for something that is in his memory and has a tactile feel to it.

We have solar lights in Burton’s Garden and even when I am not there I can think that his light is shining brightly in his special place at the cottage.

Burton is lovingly remembered and deeply missed and I feel blessed to have this special garden to visit and spend time in his memory.

 

Lynda Kolly

Lynda has been a Threads of Life family member since the organization's earliest days. She has been involved with the Winnipeg Steps for Life walk and also volunteered as a speaker, a volunteer family guide, and served as a Director for several years.
Lynda Kolly

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