Departure from Summerport Beach

From Summerport Beach

It seemed fitting, on this last day of emptying my parents' house, that I got lost trying to find it, and later drove back to my sister's house in Eustis through a summer storm so intense that I could hardly see the road.  Both of these these things commonly plagued me on visits to my parents in recent years.

The topography of the land between Winter Garden and Windermere has been remade so utterly, and the names of real places have been so freely borrowed for new "places", that I often become disoriented.  There is for example a "Summerport Village", a housing tract nowhere near Summerport Beach, nor any body of water.  Today I simply went too far along County Road 535, missing my turnoff to the lake.

My own task was to deal with my parents' books.  They both were intellectually active, and they left many collections of books about German language, history and travel; botany & horticulture, mineralogy, family genealogy, surgery, Central Asia, Scotland and the Hebrides, the colonial South, cookery, oriental rugs, the Mennonites, Alaska and the Russian Orthodox Church, the novels of Arthur Upfield, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Ann Bridge, the memoirs of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

I once read in a book on book collecting that among the enemies of books are to be counted librarians, and I confess that it is true.  You can't bear to throw away the set of the World Book Encyclopedia that you bought for your children in 1975?  Not to worry, donate it to the library and we will throw it away for you.  Out of three rooms full of books, I culled five boxes that might find new homes, which I left guiltily, like foundlings, at the entrance to the Windermere branch of the local public library, (which was closed for Labor Day).  The rest I pitched into the shipping container-sized dumpster we had rented.

My mother, a former journalist, and my father, a retired doctor, were both masters of paper-era office procedures, and they left a number of file cabinets full of meticulous files of research and correspondence, and many cardboard storage boxes of the same.

My father was an active photographer, and there were countless boxes of slides and prints of family events, orchids & bromeliads, and medical procedures.  I was surprised to find a boxed Graflex camera, which it seemed he had not done much with.  There was also an Olympus 35mm SLR with many attachments, which appeared to have been his main camera.  He never made the leap to digital photography.

Dismantling my mother's workstation, I uncovered layers of PC history.  An expert typist, she moved to word-processing as soon as it appeared, back in the early '80's, (many years before I myself became computer-literate), with WordStar.  I found installation disks for IBM DOS 1.0 and 1.1, and for WordPerfect 5.1, line printer paper, and boxes of unused  5¼-inch diskettes.

Breaking for lunch on Saturday at Taquitos Jalisco in Winter Garden, my sister Amy recognized a girlhood friend with her family.  They knew someone who was interested in the house.  He came by on Sunday with his wife, and again today.  They live in Windermere, but they want to raise their small children on the lake.

I had taken the book donations to the library and come back with a Subway sandwich, which I was eating by the sliding glass doors looking onto Lake Butler.  I saw the man's wife come around from the side to the back terrace, and stand looking out at the lake.  In that moment, watching her from behind, I knew that she wanted the house.  He called Amy later today to say that he would send a contract with a down payment.

So, all's well that ends well.  Tomorrow we're off to Clearwater to visit Ronda's Uncle Ray and Aunt Pat, and then home on Wednesday.


Martin H. said...

That must have been quite exhausting. And, isn't it strange to see the lives of those closest to us, laid out before us in their various collections and accumulations.

Glad that the home is going to someone who will appreciate it. So begins another cycle.

Brett said...

Martin, it was exhausting! Visiting my wife's uncle in the hospital after driving to Clearwater, I kept drifting off as he spoke. I was afraid that he might think I was being rude, but I couldn't help it.

Fortunately, Ray was released Tuesday morning, and after a night's sleep, we had a much better visit with him at his home.

JoAnn said...

You may be tried, but reading this relaxed me. As I read this I allowed my mind to wonder the lake. And then God showed up. It had to be God! Thanks Brett for writing this and Ronda for sharing. This was right on time to help renew my faith. Thank you Castleberrys and thank you God.

Steerforth said...

Your parents sounded like remarkable people. As much as I loved mine, they weren't interested in anything beyond their immediate world and regarded my intellectual curiosity as a "passing phase".

It must have been emotionally draining to go through your parents' possessions - in my father's case, I had so many questions that I wanted to ask him.

I hope you have a chance to have a proper break.

Brett said...

JoAnn, thanks for your nice comment. It was pretty amazing how that couple showed up and bought the house like that, wasn't it? Our angels were looking out for us!

Steerforth, thanks for reading. I, too, had many questions for my mother, had she survived my father.

Getting together with my sisters to do this was good. I thought it would be more difficult than it was. But I forgave my parents, and myself, years ago, for my not having been the son that they had in mind.

I can only marvel at how such different people as my father and mother fell in love, and remained true to each other until death.