When we were thinking of retirement, my husband, Albie, and I talked about buying a lake cabin, which he had always wanted.

Our children were fully grown and moving on to have their own families. Albie and I started taking weekend trips to explore properties in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In 1987, we were in northwestern Wisconsin trying to find a property when we got lost. Soon we went looking for the place again, and we found it. This time we made an offer and it was ours. The closing date was March 6, 1988.

It was only a shell, not finished, but Albie, the potential carpenter, knew he could do it.

And he did do it, with lots of help from talented family members and me, the not-so-talented but willing helper. Now we could drive from our home in Fridley, and two hours and 15 minutes later we would arrive to our cabin in the beautiful forest.

The lake cabin has always been open to family and friends — from our adult children and grandchildren to our great-grandchildren, sometimes when they were only weeks old. It was often their only getaway.

We host a reunion at the cabin every Fourth of July. Everyone comes — sometimes more than 40 family and friends.

In 2011, on the weekend of July 4th, a devastating storm took out a lot of forest and cabins in northwestern Wisconsin. We had a lot of damage, but the cabin survived. I called family and told them not to come because the roads were blocked, and there was no electricity or water. That didn’t stop anyone! They all came, bringing a generator and supplies. Everyone pitched in. They cut trees and branches. They picked up all the debris. They covered and patched the skylights, windows and roof. It took a year to repair the cabin. Now we have a lot fewer trees, but we’re thankful we still have the cabin.

I knew buying the cabin had been the right decision when my youngest granddaughter said, “The cabin is my favorite place in the whole world,” and everyone replied: “Mine too.”

Now Albie and I are 85 years old, still enjoying the cabin. And our family is always there to help and enjoy it.

So, God willing, we hope for another 4th of July reunion next year.

Betty Alfredson, Fridley


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