A YEAR TO REMEMBER By Lori A Alicea

Senior Year is a milestone year to remember.

A student’s final lap around the track, prepared to cross the finish line and begin a brand new race outside of high school in nine memorable months.

A senior’s calendar should be managed by an event coordinator, as one event will kick off another, an ongoing firework display of moments, milestones and lifelong memories until Graduation Day.

Senior pictures, Homecoming, College visits, Winter Break;
Spring Break, Prom, Sports, Finals, Senior Ditch Day;
Graduation Day, and all those open houses to name a few.

The Class of 2020 would begin their Senior Year with full exciting calendar events just as classes of previous years.

That first semester of 2020 fall sports, homecoming, classes, finals and winter break were all checked off the calendar as planned.

But come the second semester for the Class of 2020, an unforeseen pandemic cold-front would freeze all school events for the remainder of the calendar year.

The numbing effect was chilling.

When the reality of the senior year milestone cancellations began to unthaw in minds of the Class of 2020, hearts sank for what was supposed to be
Their year to remember.

Eighteen years ago my son was entering his senior year of high school, the same year when parents had given birth to the Class of 2020.

The milestone calendar for my son burst of checklists ’till graduation as all the other students of his senior Class of 2002.

The final year of cross country for my son began.
The books were now opened for the first semester classes.
Fall weather that year was beautiful.

That fall my senior high school son began to test his wings to fly.
This final year of school for me was a painful countdown of letting go.

The Class of 2020 was unaware; so was the Class of 2002.
The pandemic affects the Class of 2020;
The Twin Tower attacks the fall year 2001; affects the Class of 2002.

Each was a year to remember.

The ominous clouds of fear, loss, hopelessness, and all the unknowns paralyzed the country and Class of 2002 for months to come.

Unlike the Class of 2020, the Class of 2002 was able to continue with their senior year festivities, albeit with sadness and guilt of going on.

As a mother, I grieve for every student of the Class of 2020
Who were robbed of their
Year to remember.

You’ve waited eighteen years for your final lap around the track of high school memories.

You deserved your Cinderella evening at prom.
You earned your right to compete at state.
You know you could have been valedictorian or salutatorian.

Your mother’s heart is ripped in her inability to witness your walk across the graduation stage.

The “what if’s” and “if only” events of your senior calendar will forever remain unchecked;

Except the
CELEBRATION OF YOU!

Celebrate your accomplishments.
Celebrate your milestones.
CELEBRATE YOU!

The year 2020 wasn’t the end, but the beginning of a brand new race for your senior class.

You are celebrated, Class of 2020.

When my son graduated high school in 2002, I celebrated him that year and his sister five years later with a video montage of their life as a graduation gift to them.

At the end of the video, I, their mother, narrated this mother-to-graduate poem,
Honoring their life and Year to Remember.

I pray that every life, every graduated student of the Class of 2020 walks away just as honored.

THOSE HANDS
By Lori A Alicea

The moment that I saw you first,
I marveled at your hand.
So small you were, God’s miracle,
Too great to understand.

Amazing that your little hand,
It knew just what to do.
Your tiny finger wrapped itself,
Around my finger too.

And as the days began to pass,
You held your building blocks.
Your hands would grab onto my hair,
Your hands would pull your socks.

And oh the games that babies love,
The best was peek a boo.
You’d hide behind your little hands,
And laugh the way you do.

You’d smile for joy with patty cake,
Your happiness it shows.
And better when Miss Piggy counts,
Your fingers and your toes.

Your hands would spill your glass of milk,
What handprints on the wall.
Your hands could not resist the mud,
The trails I cleaned them all.
18 Jake 1You’d hold my hand for everything,
When walking down the street.
You’d hold my hand while in the car,
I’d reach back to your seat.

But as the days began to pass,
You grew into yourself.
I’d try to help, your hand would say,
Oh mom, I do myself.

You soon would want to dress and change,
You struggled with your sleeve.
Though mixed and matched I saw you were,
The door I’d let you leave.

Instead of holding mother’s hand,
You carried your backpack.
Adventure in those books you held,
And lunch inside your sack.

And as the days began to pass,
You’d want to write your name.
You’d want to hold your bike alone,
And sleep alone the same.
CANDY bike

From catching fire flies at night,
From swinging your first bat.
Your hands behold this mother’s love,
Where memories are at.

And as the days began to pass,
What trials then and now.
Your hands, together in a prayer,
Those times would pass somehow.

I wish this day would never pass,
It has to be, won’t cry.
Those hands I hardly recognize,
Are waving me good-by.
31 IMG_20200520_0045The plan, the journey, all prepared,
One season we would share.
The path has forked, you have to take,
One brand new road out there.

Though empty might this mother’s hand,
She truly knows no fear.
While on that path, you’re not alone,
The Father’s hand is near.

30 Graduation Jake Candy

WHAT WE CELEBRATE! WHAT WE APPRECIATE! By Lori A. Alicea

What you appreciate, appreciates…
Author and speaker John Maxwell

What you value, increases in value.

We all are blessed beyond true riches.

Riches are seen through the eye of the beholder.
Riches are what we celebrate!
Riches are what we appreciate!

I’ve always considered myself a very rich woman.

I enjoy health, love, family, grandchildren, a great church, and don’t forget crafts and tons of glitter.

In this moment while I write, a choir of birds have gathered in the winter trees practicing a cantata of songs for their summer concerts as I am privileged to listen in.

Three sweet boys and seven beautiful girls call me Gaga.

Homemade chocolate chip and decorated sugar cookies hide in the freezer for those little people in my life; saving a few of them for myself I admit.

Best of all, my handsome husband just called for no other reason than to say that he loved me.

Yes, I am a rich woman.

Regardless that the vehicles we drive are junks.
Regardless that our closets remain half empty.
Regardless if our bank account balances reflects a different opinion on Wall Street.

Riches are seen through the eye of the beholder.
Riches are what we celebrate!
Riches are what we appreciate!

 There’s always something good to see, something good to say.

It’s all about perspective.

Every now and then an old fashioned treasure hunt of a situation or someone might unearth an unexpected gold mind of riches.

Years ago I wrote about such a treasure hunt.

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING GOOD TO SAY
By Lori A Alicea

 Ever known a person who just rubbed you the wrong way?  Knowing that same person, if you had to say something good about them, could you?

 Those were questions from a family broadcast, encouraging listeners to begin to believe the best in someone, even if it required a treasure hunt of their character to find it.

I was standing in my husband’s garage one morning when I remembered the broadcast about treasure hunting.  While my husband doesn’t even come close to falling into the category of “rubbing me the wrong way”, yet loving him greatly as I do, I decided to take the treasure hunt challenge and wondered if anything in this garage would bring him honor.

Flipping the light it’s obvious no fancy cars or fishing boats are parked in this garage.  Though thrilled he’d be for either one, neither would mean anything worthwhile.

While stepping through this “hard hat” area I felt consumed by so much “stuff”.  Seemingly lost in a man’s world, I started to doubt my quest, yet minutes before stopping my search was victorious, when one blue zipper bag was found.

At first glance, one might question the honor in a blue zipper bag.  One might cringe at its worn, greasy appearance.  But honor goes beyond the grease, as the real treasure hidden inside this blue bag was an assortment of old rusty, tools.

For Father’s Day one year I bought these tools so my husband could change the oil and rotate the tires.  That day these tools were shiny and organized.  Now they’re stuffed in a tattered bag, giving the impression they haven’t been cared for, but just the opposite is true.

Over the years I’ve watched my husband become a servant among servants, helping others with these tools.  Changing oil became fixing breaks and whatever he’s learned to do since then, mostly requiring a hot meal as payment.

Occasionally I watch my husband working under the hood, curious how parts on the garage floor ever get put back correctly.  Yet hours later when I hear the engine running, I stand amazed that though I have the college degree, he truly is the smarter of us both.

Looking at these tools, I recall harsh weather my husband has labored in.  I see the mismatch set, remembering frigid slush he searched through after his tools had accidentally dumped.  I see their rust, feeling soaked myself as he’s worked beneath cars in a downpour.  Then I see that great smile he wears regardless of it all.

Maybe a hot meal doesn’t justify the effort of “being a blessing”.  Maybe it does if you see blessings as released boomerangs; so faithful they return.

“Finding the best” in a situation or someone is always worth the hunt, as treasures are buried everywhere, even hiding in some blue zipper bag.

So many years have passed since this old column of mine was published.

Yet time hasn’t diminished my admiration for a hard-working man who keeps us out of car payments by keeping our old cars running.

My husband’s heart is still that of a servant, helping others whenever he can, still for the sticker price of a hot meal.

Living in this old country town during the summer you’d find my husband and I sitting outside on lawn chairs sipping coffee and waving at passerby’s, seen as the town’s billboard for two people in love.

Yes, I am a rich woman and nothing or nobody can ever tell me different.

Because
What you appreciate, appreciates…
Author and speaker John Maxwell

 And I appreciate all that God has given me.

I celebrate!  I appreciate!

2019 england cova with ice cream cone

I am a rich woman.