The bad weather was back as we pulled out of Georgia Veterans Memorial State Park. This is the view that welcomed us to Florida.
It continued until we pulled into my sister Gail’s driveway, and then the clouds parted and blue sky appeared. Again, it looked like a promise of good times ahead to me!
The visit with Gail and Mike was bittersweet. We had a wonderful time together — as we always do — laughing, great conversation and discussions, watching movies and favorite old TV shows on DVD, Hardees biscuits for breakfast, pizza, and frequent trips to Starbucks.
The great thing about visiting them is that the guys have a ball together — just like two schoolkids — and Gail and I have time for our precious sisterly talks. It is one of life’s greatest gifts having a sister who is also a dearest friend.
The bittersweet part is that Mike’s job is moving them to Texas, so they already had a contract to sell the house. They were just waiting for the closing date. So we were all trying to emotionally detach from the associations and memories that their property held for us.
Gail drew the plans for the home and designed it from scratch. Also, she chose the property on the bend of the river when everyone else thought she was nuts. But her choice was a stroke of genius. It’s above the 500 year flood plain on a hill. So when the rest of the area flooded, she and Mike sat out on their back porch, overlooking the rapidly rising river, played their guitar and sang gospel and hymns. It was a precious time for them, and a cherished second-hand memory for me.
I also remembered times past when we would bring our guitars, sit on the back porch, and sing the old folk rock songs from the 60’s, like Where have All the Flowers Gone? Funny how deeply they still moved me after all those years.
They planted fruit trees, grape vines, had a huge garden area, a potting shed, a shop where Mike repaired lawn mowers and chain saws for a hobby. In spring the azaleas made it look like a cover photo for Southern Homes & Gardens, and in the summer it simply looked like Eden. They grew the sweetest naval oranges I have ever tasted. And always there were red geraniums on the porches.
In fact, when the appraiser came, he asked her, “Why are you leaving Paradise?”
My photos do a serious injustice to Gail’s house. The unusually late spring meant that the yard looked bare and stark in contrast to the normal profusion of blooming shrubs, flowers and trees.
We had such a good time that we ended up staying 6 days. Then we headed for Juniper Springs, knowing that we would be back one more time to help them pack the U-Haul.