One of my friend’s favorite statements is “You can be sure of only one thing in life – things are going to change.” In the few months I have had off from writing Light Reflections I found how true that can be.
During my 2004 stay at Eshaness Lighthouse, I seriously injured my back. I am still not sure how, but it probably happened when I was carrying or feeding coal to the cantankerous Rayburn stove. I was in so much pain that doctors came to the lighthouse, and they wanted to hospitalize me. Stubborn as always, there was no way I was going into the hospital without my family close. Making the airline trip back to Michigan was out of the question so I spent most of the summer on medication inside the house.
I worried that in the future my back would keep me from staying at the lighthouse alone. My husband and I had decided that if we ever had to give up the lighthouse we would offer it to the nonprofit Shetland Amenity Trust, which owns two other lighthouses on the islands.
So, I met with the Trust officials and their board decided that “if” we wanted to sell Eshaness they wanted to buy it. They put no pressure on us and even suggested we could have a “timeshare” so we could return for a period of time without cost.
When I finally arrived back in the States and met with doctors, it became evident I was destined to have more back problems. Dean and I were left with a hard decision to make. We did not want to sell Eshaness, and we broke down when we even thought about it. We also did not want it to sit empty for long periods of time. That is very tough on buildings in such exposed locations.
If we sold, it then it would be available to Shetlanders and visitors to use, as the Trust would make it a self-catering facility. For two months we struggled with the decision. Late in October I called the Shetland Amenity Trust and told them we would sell it to them as long as we could have a four-week time share. That was probably one of the most difficult phone calls I have ever made and I was depressed for weeks afterwards.
In making our decision, we came to the conclusion that a local group and/or nonprofit make better lighthouse owners than private individuals, especially owners from far away. More folks can enjoy the lighthouse and an established group would care for the lighthouse alleviating our biggest concern about Eshaness being unoccupied for long periods of time. Also a local group’s response in time of emergency and maintenance issues is a lot quicker.
Next month, I will tell the story of my first trip back since my back injury to get the lighthouse ready for others.
This story appeared in the
May 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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