Lake Sebring has few fish and it’s kinda murky. Small fish for sure, maybe could even be caught by dangling a thread threateningly above the water while shouting insults about they can’t even live on land and their fishy mommas. Those little slime balls lurk just below the ripply surface so of course I taunt them and wait for their surprised reactions. Levels seldom vary – the shore is a muddy thicket. Only the birds, fleet footed fowl that they are, can traverse the marshy edges. It is a wannabe lake, envious of its two flanking lakes – Lake Jackson and Little Jackson. Low slung veranda focused homes grace their banks where moss dots the trees green baskets hanging low and redolent of swamps, but Lake Sebring, it is bordered by mobile homes, and in one of them, 3406 Delaware, my father lived. It is an elderly community, the huge WalMart jammed with wheeled vehicles for the mobility impaired. Aunt Betty Jo called it “God’s Waiting Room”.
It was not the furniture, or the knick knacks or the rummage sale art pieces that I collected with his ashes, it was the military records, the divorce papers, some photos, and what surprised me the most, a box containing every letter I had written to him for the last 10 years. I suppose that’s when he started saving stuff. He liked to boast that he could move in a day, packing one, maybe two, suitcases, and be on his way. He lived with a succession of sisters until each one of them died, except the last one, my Aunt Eleanor, the former Sister Ellen Rose of the Sisters of Charity. Because in his words, the Catholic Church had surgically removed her sense of humor, he would need to find somewhere else to live. So he found a trailer home for sale in Sebring Mobile Estates, and my husband and I bought it for him six years ago. He was like an eco camp, that the owners can pack up and transport without leaving a footprint behind. Dad gave me wry wit, amateur pessimism, and because he ran away from home when we were kids, a fierce drive to never be financially or emotionally dependent on any mate. He really didn’t need much, seldom asked for anything, and I loved him with all my heart.