LETTING GOD  By Lori A Alicea

Everybody grieves.

Yes, everybody grieves.

But everybody grieves differently, and in their own way.

Some grieve outwardly, visible through the rainfall of their tears.ayva crying with blanket

Some grieve inwardly, as if a dam holds back the streams of their pain, yet breaks through in the flow of their written words or song.

There is no measuring stick to gauge one’s grief,

But you grieve nevertheless.

Grief is a painting of a thousand words.

We find ourselves consoled in the brushstrokes from those who understand.
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We take comfort in the sunsets that calm our weariness.D20E4C50-9289-4D13-A92F-9C91272E4D79

As the morning dew weeps over the spring flowers,
we also are given permission to weep.

water dew on dandelions
Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Jesus himself wept in grief over a dear friend who died.

Jesus wept.
John 11:35 NIV

This portrait of grief is an open book of our heart where its pages are stained from runaway tears, yet caught by the hands of a loving God who notices and stores them in a bottle, recording these raindrops of pain in His Book of Remembrance.

You’ve stored my many tears in your bottle
not one will be lost.
For they are all recorded
In your book of remembrance.
Psalms 56:8 (TPT)

high angle shot of an open book
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

This portrait of a thousand words has been hanging in our personal gallery over the last eleven months as a tribute to us in our season of showers titled,

A Family’s Ten Good-byes.”

On September 20, 2020 the angels of heaven came for our mother, our pillar, matriarch and heart of the family.
funeral a goodby neese jake david looking at casket
Her loss on our plate would have been a full plate to grieve over this past year. But there would be nine more good-byes added to an already full plate.

On my side, we lost my mother, brother and papa.

On my husband’s side, we lost two brothers, a papa and two cousins.

Together, we lost two dear friends from church.

Yes, ten good-byes in eleven months, each farewell unique, each remembering a life well lived.

This season of showers,

Whether flowing outward from the windows of our soul or inward from the depths of our heart,
Our tears watered a great reminder of a family reunion one day, in heaven.

From each shower,
A “rainbow in full view” nestled in the open sky whispering the nearness of God.2019 houle mark and connie rainbow

These April showers brought forth May flowers of joy, because in God:

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy cometh in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 (KJV)E82E7320-64BF-44A8-8420-0A8D90AC827A

The season of grief most difficult,
The season which wrestles and fights to hold onto your heartstrings,
Yet a season you must find His perfect peace in,
Our season of healing,
Our season of letting go.

In our letting go,
We are letting God…

Sit with us beside the empty chair.
empty chair TABLE Mom Picture Sweater
Be that telephone call when we long for theirs.
2018 ayva on phone
Be a song when we miss their voice.
Be an arm of comfort in the middle of the night.USE older younger rosalee kizzie 2

Give us eyes to see our family portrait still complete, while their picture now hangs in our heart.party guests - moms family

Be a father to the fatherless.
Be a husband to the widow.
Be a friend to the friendless.

Lead us beside still waters.

KIZZIE ROSALEE holding hands water keep

Be our everything;
Whatever everything needs to be.

September 20, 2021 will mark a family’s one year anniversary of their mother’s good-bye.
debbie casket
Her first birthday, first holidays, first anniversary and first Mother’s Day without our matriarch has been honored and grieved differently by each who loved her, though grieved nevertheless.

God has wiped our tears when they’ve fallen outwardly.

God has been those words or song when we wept from the inside.

For the nine farewells which followed our mother’s, God has been a faithful post to lean on when the weight of our heartache was far too great a burden to shoulder and stand alone.25th anniversary - worship song

In our letting go,
We’ve been letting God.

We’ll get there when we get there.

In time…in time.

round silver colored pocket watch and eyeglasses on opened book
Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

SO MANY GOOD-BYES By Lori A Alicea

A quiet morning sitting along the shoreline beach of Hawaii, a picturesque view where my six-year old granddaughter feeds the waves with sand food served from a menu of her imagination; an hour of calm for me as the ocean soothes the soles of my weary feet with every wave that crashes up against them.
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Sometimes the weight of heavy burdens takes its toll on our feet which does its best to keep us standing strong, as burdens though were never meant to be carried.  But every now and then God sits his children down beside the shores of cool water and allows the singing and washing of the waves minister gently to our tired spirit.

It’s been a year like no other; adding the weight of the recent month just passed of so many good-byes, so many tears poured out remembering another loved one.  A mother…a brother ‘n law and now a brother. Navigating grief that maiden year of so many “firsts” presents itself without a map which adds to the pain.   Magnify that voyage times three and your shoulders buckle under weight of heartache.  

I once read that…

Grief never ends…but it changes.
It’s a passage not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith..
It is the price of love.
Author Unknown.

Better to love than never love at all;
Remembering the price of love will one day be paid in our parting good-bye.

The price of love recently expressed from my brother’s wife…
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How I miss you baby.
The flesh in me just wants you back for one more kiss, 
One more hug and one more I love you.

I feel so empty, but after 46 years with this beautiful man, how else could I feel.
Until we meet again baby, I will carry you in my heart forever.

You made my life complete.
Love you and miss you so much.

Your wife…

This trip to Hawaii was an unexpected one for me; a trip actually scheduled for someone else.  But plans changed; life’s wisdom to always have a bag packed when God’s calendar reveals a secret.

Accompanying my granddaughter home after a three week stay with family came as I gift God knew I needed; while His reasons have yet to be unveiled.  
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Though a ten hour flight and a five hour time difference, all these good-byes can’t be abandoned in baggage claim.

The luggage of our heavy hearts must be unpacked.

We must be willing to open the luggage of our good-bye, hold what’s inside, savor the moments and in time unique to each, be willing to put away our bags, and leave the intersection of Holding On and step into the street of Moving Forward.

But as my Father sits beside the shores of cool water with me and allows the singing and washing of waves to minister to my tired spirit.

I hear Him gently reminding me…

Be willing with…

One moment at a time… 
One breath at a time…
One step at a time…
One memory at a time…

and 

Let Him shoulder the rest.

MOTHERS LOVE, When it Hurts  By Lori A Alicea

Buried in the fine print of loving others,
Spells out the risks we take when giving our hearts away…

In parenting…
In friendships…
In families…
In marriage…

That to be a parent, a friend, a family member, or spouse,

We’re vulnerable to
The “what if’s”,
The risks,

When sharing a piece of our heart with another.

While playing my hand safe in most areas of my life, I’ve always taken the risk and jumped off the deep end into relationships, giving the best of me while learning to swim when I found myself in waters way over my head.

Looking for a lifeline when a twenty-one year old version of myself, rocks her first child in the middle of the night. A newborn helpless and dependent on me for everything, I had to get this mothering thing right for his sake and for my daughter who is born to us five years later.

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In over my head I’d risk it all for two children who’d be waving me good-by in eighteen years for a life of their own.
a family cumbee family2019 england jake graduation 20

Mother’s don’t read the fine print of parenting; she willingly risks the tears of her heart through her children’s scrapes, their falls, their fails, their challenges, their growing up, and yes, their leaving because:

Mothers love when it hurts.

My mother loved this way six times over through the lives of her son and five beautiful daughters.

In over her head and floundering for a lifeline, a sixteen year old mother pacifies her newborn son in the midnight hour.

A mother, in some ways still a child herself; starts swimming the best way she knows how to stay afloat, risking it all by giving all of herself to a child surviving in the life preserver of his mother’s arms.

Back in the lonely days of early child-rearing, there wasn’t a village to assist my mother and her young son and soon to be five daughters who’d be born within a year or two between themselves.

Easter with siblings and outfits

Diapers weren’t disposable, and babysitters weren’t affordable. Mother leaned on God for inner strength while she flailed in the deep waters of parenting. Without sisters or the helping arms of an overworked and young husband himself, mother sowed the remains of her teenage years into the garden of her children, cultivating them in the admonition of the Lord.

A woman who gave all didn’t read the fine print of mothering; she willingly risked the tears of her heart through her children’s scrapes, their falls, their fails, their challenges, their growing up, and yes, their leaving for lives of their own because:
siblings family photo (2)Mothers love when it hurts.

Buried in the fine print of loving others,

We’re vulnerable to
The “what if’s”,
The risks,

When sharing a piece of our heart with another.

Mother faced
The risk,
The “what if”

My child leaves me for Jesus,
While I’m still alive to face this painful good-by.

Mother attended the funeral for two of her young adult daughters,

siblings belinda mary

Mary's Headstonedavid at gravesideWho left behind children of their own in their leaving.
funeral 2siblings mary christina brittany
“Mother’s should never have to bury their children”,
My mother lamented.

Grief hovered as a dark cloud over my mother’s life for years until sunshine broke through in her daughter’s memories.

My mother gave her heart away because;

Mothers love when it hurts.

Sunday, May 9, 2021 this daughter will celebrate the first Mother’s Day without her mother.

Mother’s Day crosses another milestone of firsts that we as her remaining family, navigate life through the maiden year without our matriarch.

Love hurts in good-by.
a flowersa family alicea family
Love hurts in the empty seat.

empty chair TABLE Mom Picture Sweater

Love hurts in the conversations you long to have.

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Love hurts in the empty arms.
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Love hurts at her graveside.

mom's headstone

But grief which lingers as a dark cloud will one day be clear skies when sunshine breaks in our mother’s memories.
IMG_9345Always finding comfort, peace and joy in our loving God,

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Yes, love hurts.

But…

“Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

A TIME TO GO ON… By Lori A Alicea

1There is a time for everything
And a season for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die….
4A time to weep and a time to laugh.
4A time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4

Time is artistically painted on the canvases of our lives, expressed in the brushstrokes of the valleys and mountain tops we experience.

The valleys and mountains each are majestic from their view and unique perspective, both offering challenges and struggles yet delighting the eye from the artist’s layers of color and intricate detail, regardless the compass direction our faces must turn to soak in its wonder based on our foots position.

Mountains are tall and strong, fully alive calling those in the valley to come forth, to begin their ascent to the mountain’s highest peak, its summit, a holy place where God often encounters His people.

God spoke to Moses from a burning bush on Mount Horeb.

God tested Abraham’s heart on Mount Moriah and sent an angel to stay Abraham’s hand before sacrificing his son Isaac.

God wants to encounter us in the high places, sending us changed as we make our descent down the mountain, to then encounter other lost and broken hearts for the Kingdom.

Valleys are low places book-ended between vast mountains. Valleys are a place of rest with God along green pastures beside the quiet rivers running through; a safe place where the Shepherd’s rod and staff comforts even in the shadow of death. It is in the valley experience where we learn to trust a good and faithful God, a place of dependence giving Him permission to restore our soul.

(Psalm 23 NIV)

1There is a time for everything
And a season for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die….
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2

On Sunday, September 20, 2020 God chose this day to be the last day for our mother’s life this side of eternity.

a goodby hands

At 9:52 pm our mother entered the gates of heaven, falling into the Lord’s embrace for the first time on the other side of eternity.

As a family we rejoice as our mother received her eternal reward, yet must now reconcile God’s truth in our hearts,

There is a time to be born, and a time to die…”
Ecclesiastes 3:2

a goodby neese jake david looking at casket

a goodby cumbee

a goodby jay and jill
debbie and andy
amy david
barb

Though undeniably a families heartbreaking loss, might our hearts be somewhat comforted and quieted as innocent children like our sweet granddaughter Ayva who understands from the simple pages of a child’s book written from her view in the valley, “Grandma is now with Jesus.”

a goodby ayva looking at grandma (2)
Ayva doesn’t fear because she knows and trusts this same Jesus to comfort her by the quiet waters along the green pastures she sits.

1There is a time for everything
And a season for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time to say good-by.

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burial 1 USE
a graveside candace and girls USE
a graveside casket 1
There is a time to be comforted in good-by…

a graveside debbie and kids
There is a time to touch one last time in good-by…

a graveside burial jake casket
jordan casket
debbie casket
1
There is a time for everything
And a season for every activity under heaven.
2A time to be born and a time to die….
4A time to weep and a time to laugh.
4A time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4

And a Time to Go On…

On Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 9:52 pm our mother left us, but at 9:53 pm that same evening, the second hand of time continued to make its way around the clock, signaling that Time Must Go On.

Probably the most difficult about saying good-by is embracing the
valley back to the mountain experience” of
going on.

Though paralyzed in grief, traffic doesn’t pull over for the grieving.

Flags aren’t lowered to honor the heartbroken.

The heartbeat of time never flat lines.

The rhythm of life continues to breathe in and breathe out.

There is a time for everything,

There is a time to go on.

September 20, 2020 is a mile marker we find ourselves looking back in the rear view mirror from. Trying to go on, yet the rear view mirror of our mother’s life calls us to reflect back, to remember, to want another moment with her, to maybe deny that she ever left.

The most painful realization of this September 20th mile marker for me is the silent telephone and not hearing my mother’s voice on the other line anymore when I call. Our time together was usually at night or especially during my 45 minute ride home after Life Group on Tuesday nights from church. Mother kept me company along the dark roads until I was safe behind closed doors again.  In the silence of my car ride alone, I’ve tried to listen to my mother’s gospel music she used to have playing in the house.  But credited to my heart’s sadness, could barely get thru a single song.

The countless times I’ve searched my contact list to see mother’s number still saved on my phone; I don’t have the heart to delete a disconnected number, especially my mother’s. On occasion I have dialed for another conversation with my mother, hoping for a miracle she’d find the time to take my call in heaven.

I am already feeling the weight of the upcoming holidays on the vacancy of my heart.  Her empty seat at the table will require God’s presence to overcome the loss of hers.

Navigating the “firsts” of the next twelve months without my mother can be unbearable unless I find a place to rest among the green pastures of the valley, to surrender to the still waters where my Jesus can restore my soul.

In time, we must laugh again.
We must dance again.
Yes, there will be tears.
Yes there will be mourning.
There is a time for everything,
And yes,

There is a Time to Go On.

The mountains, tall and majestic and fully alive are calling those in the valley to look up and come forth, to begin their ascent to the mountain’s highest peak, its summit, a holy place where God wants to encounter His people.

There is a time for everything,
And as for me, a time to write again.

a family gaga and ayva and aubrey

There is a time to remember what God has done, what God has given, what God has blessed.  A time to remember a mother who gave us life;
A praying mother who introduced her six children to Jesus.

a family our names

There is a time for everything…

A time to remember.

Just the other day while driving with my three year old granddaughter Aubrey in her car seat, she looked from her window and screamed with excitement,

Oh look Gaga, there’s grandma’s house.”

How did a three year old remember this view from just a few weeks ago?

a graveside burial cemeteryWe will never forget you mother.

a gravesideburial headstone

Yes, we will look from time to time the rear-view mirror to remember all that you were to us.

Your family will never forget…

No matter that Time, With or Without Our Permission, Must Go On. Continue reading A TIME TO GO ON… By Lori A Alicea

THEIR LIGHT STILL SHINES By Lori A Alicea

A Sympathy Card

For those who lost…

A husband, a wife,
A brother, a sister,
A friend, a son, a daughter,
A mother, father, aunt or uncle, cousin,
A classmate, a co-worker, a neighbor,
A stranger you noticed every day,
Any one you shared life with,

But lost during this pandemic year of 2020.

These expressed words are my condolences
To your family that they might bring comfort
In your most difficult hour.

Love bridges the miles that separate us.
Love knows no stranger.
Love reaches out to those who hurt.

I’m reaching out a stranger,
While reaching out a friend.
To fill your grieving cup,
With hope, with promise.

To extend an arm of comfort,
To lift you up during a time
When the unimaginable weight of your loss
Is too much to bear alone.

My sympathy’s in your hour of great need…

Might you be blanketed…
Might you be surrounded…
With “the peace
That passeth all understanding.”

THEIR LIGHT STILL SHINES
By Lori A Alicea

Each light, a life, a name held close,
Burns bright their memory.
In silence we remember those,
Called home to be with Thee.

The brilliance of so many names,
A darkened night broke through.
Appears a starry sky but yet,
My eyes see only you.

lighted candle
Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

Behind, you left an empty seat,
Behind, you left your light.
Your memories remain with us,
They comfort in the night.

greyscale photography of lamp on floor
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Their names, lit dim mere months ago,
The roll calls just a few.
The flicker soon becomes a flame,
Your name was added too.

blur burn burning burnt
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Then one by one another name,
A life, a candle lit.

tealight candle lit up
Photo by Mohammad reza Fathian on Pexels.com

This scene it takes away one’s breath,
And overwhelms to sit.

man sitting beside building
Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

Each light released into Thy hands,
Good-by this side of night.
Our loss, eternity has gained,
Released towards heaven’s sight.

bright celebration crowd dark
Photo by Abby Kihano on Pexels.com

The window of my heart remains,
Your light my eyes can see.

pillar candle near clear glass window
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Your light still shines the midnight hour,
There’s peace, you rest with THEE.

lighted candle
Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

And the peace of God,
which passeth all understanding,
shall keep you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 KJV

BE THOU ENCOURAGED…In Loss By Lori A. Alicea

We are not alone in our tears.
In the lonely midnight hour it seems we suffer in silence.
But be assured and find great comfort as we are not alone in our tears.

Jesus weeps with us. He himself wept, being moved with compassion as Martha and Mary grieved the loss of their brother.  Jesus shared their grief in tears.

Jesus draws near to the broken hearted.
In your tears, Jesus will draw near to you.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV

When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Where have you laid him?  He asked.  “Come and see Lord,” they replied. 

Jesus wept. John 11 32-35 NIV

I never understood earth shattering loss until my older sister Belinda left this earth for heaven. So many years ago, yet seems like yesterday.  She left us at the young age of 44 after being sick her whole life, yet because of her strong will to live and belief in God for a miracle, we had her years beyond what we imagined.  She was the first of our six siblings to go.
xmas and other036A generous friend my sister was while growing up, spending her allowance on me for no other reason than she loved me. We shared a sweet friendship that followed into our adult lives.

I loved my sister’s unexpected long distance calls and hated when our short conversations were over. Belinda was always in a hurry yet I appreciated her small offerings of time.  What I wouldn’t give for a mini talk with my sister, enjoying her laugher on the other end of the telephone.

Goodbyes are terribly painful. Goodbyes open the floodgates of our tears.  You can’t remind the clock.  Wishing is a waste of time.  Life moves forward from the day death closes a door.  It’s not fair.  The answer to our “whys” will never satisfy.  Loss is a bitter pill to swallow.

Though there is rest in our suffering and loss.
There is comfort in Jesus noticing our weeping.
In our grief He is moved with compassion and weeps with us.

There is sweet hope for our tomorrow as..

Weeping may endure for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NIV

Joy is not forgetting your loss.
Joy is not pretending your loss ever happened.

“Joy comes in the morning” because if allowed, Jesus is the salve that heals all wounds. Jesus binds the broken and fills the void your loved one left behind with a new song in your heart.

Those who sow in tears will reap in joyful singing.
Psalm 126:5 NIV

All those tears in the night have been accounted for.
Your tears are collected in His bottle, and…
Joy comes in the morning.

Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not recorded in your book?
Psalm 56:8 NIV

 So many years ago, yet seems like yesterday. The deep pain of losing a sister I never expected to endure.  In a former column of mine The Milestones of First Anniversary’s

I wrote:

At her graveside service as Heaven comforted us with a sunny day and serenading birds, its own recipe of chicken soup for the sick at heart.  I couldn’t have comprehended that first year without her, as we fought to get through our first week.
graveyard
Those first few weeks after our tearful good-by when the numbing of the shock had worn off, waves of sorrow crashed over me through unexpected reminders of my sister in resemblances of her children, in each of us remaining siblings and even complete strangers. I barely held it together hearing the mention of her name.
IMG_5956Reading my sister’s obituary with her picture posted seemed so surreal. I struggled to be a pillar of strength for her children embracing the difficult realization their mother was gone.

In the passing of years, you do find it to be true that “time does heal all wounds.”
You miss your loved one in ways mere words can’t convey.
But time in God is good.

He is patient.
God doesn’t rip off the Band-Aid protecting your pain.
He handles you gently and softly, and never in a hurry.

You never cry alone.
Jesus weeps His own tears with you.
In the surrendering of your broken heart there is joy in the morning.

God even breathes his joy in the midst of our good-byes.
I wrote about it in my former column just mentioned.

Though sad was our sister’s “home going party”, before us, a little butterfly circled, showing off as if to tell us a secret.  Flittering free as a child, its interpretative dance reminding us my sister was free from the body that held her hostage.  Cry no more she’s free.

 Since then, I’ve attended a few dance recitals held outside my kitchen window.  A gift from Heaven who enjoys her now, I draw joy again from the well of my soul, prepared to live through the “seconds”.  There’s even peace to write my own lyrics to the song of this butterfly’s dance.

It’s just a little butterfly,
Outside that I can see.
Performing solo with new wings,
A special dance for me.

No music plays that I can hear,
A song there has to be.
A ballerina on her stage,
The audience, just me.

This butterfly is free to fly,
Wherever it may go.
But chose outside my window pane,
That I would somehow know.

Each dance this butterfly performs,
Within my simple view.
To celebrate its freedom wings,
Each time I think of you.        

I still miss my sister after all these years.  Since my sisters death, our youngest sister went home to be with Jesus, leaving another empty chair at the dinner table.  So much to conceive, but Jesus is enough to get us to the other side of pain.  Good-by celebrates the handprints our loved one leaves behind.
No thief can ever rob you of their memory.
david at gravesideIt’s ok to weep.
Jesus did.

Remember that heaven is our eternal home; we are only passing through in this life.
We’re just dropping in to say hello this side of heaven.
One day we’ll all meet Jesus and our loved ones again and..

As the song is gloriously written…

What a day of rejoicing that will be.

ONE FINAL HOLIDAY WALK THRU By Lori A Alicea

Another holiday season is greeting front doors everywhere and gathering around Thanksgiving tables as done in Thanksgiving pasts will be families, friends and loved ones giving their heart-filled thanks for those seated beside them.

Families will share a meal over turkey, stuffing, candied yams, pumpkin pies and all the trimmings, and the bustle of life stops for a brief few hours when personal inventories are taken when you look around the crowded holiday room and remind yourself how blessed you truly are.

While a Hallmark Christmas card doesn’t quite paint the picture perfect family behind most front doors, mine included.  The sentiment of the season though rises in the hearts of most who treasure family and its gatherings.

Holidays are also viewed though thru windows that peek into our family sadness when traditions change or grief and loss that overcomes with that empty seat at the dinner table for the first time this year.

For adults who remain “kids at heart” holding onto those family members who gave them their Norman Rockwell memories, it’s hard to turn the page to a new chapter of holiday traditions, when they cling to the old ones like a favorite teddy bear.

Holiday change is inevitable as our grandparents and parents age before us, passing the holiday torch to the next generation in their inability to keep the traditions going.

While this year isn’t a holiday first for our family, after finally disbursing the treasures of mother’s home though after being in storage for a year, the reality has finally sunk in that we as a family won’t be going “home” for Thanksgiving and Christmas anymore.

The face and heart behind our family Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions has had an address change needing twenty-four hour medical care, ending her reign as the author of our holiday picture albums.
face of our holidays

As ‘tis the season of being thankful, this “kid at heart” takes ONE FINAL HOLIDAY WALK THRU of  “home” during her Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations past.

At mother’s house you are always welcome.
welcome

Whether friend, family or stranger; announced or unannounced, mother lit up when the door bell rang.

Her humble home, a single wide trailer shared with her husband Roger until he passed away a few years before she closed the doors for good, was “home” nevertheless.
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Every room spelled m-o-m as her touch was in the details of her things.
I love mom

Family meant everything to mother, whose love had no bounds.

She adopted her daughter’s best friend as her own who in turn called her mom.
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This friend with small children through their years into adulthood, referred to our mother as grandma.

We adopted into our hearts this friend’s parents who we loved deeply and embraced as nanny and papa.
Because of love, our family tree bloomed and thrived enlarging hearts and family ties.
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Mother raised her children to love and serve God, the foundation that gave our family hope during those storms of hard times.
hope

But it was during the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas when going “home” re-opened the storybook of our childhood memories each year.

I still see dad watching the Macy’s Parade on TV in his recliner while mom prepared the turkey and all the fixins in the kitchen.

Like yesterday, I imagine the dinner table decorated and set in dad’s garage, seating all of us and our grandparents on both sides.
thanksgiving pic when I was a kid USE

Growing up our Christmas tree wasn’t filled with expensive toys wrapped beneath it.  With six children there wasn’t money enough for that; but there was so much more.
my christmas with matching jammies

The traditions of a kitchen full of elves making various batches of homemade cookies with sprinkles landing everywhere.

There were those fifty-plus glittered Christmas cards we received in the mail and hung on a red chain down the railing of the stairs.

Sure can’t forget our church Christmas plays and getting that brown sack of miscellaneous nuts, fruits and holiday candy as you left the sanctuary.

Mother’s homemade coffee cake served warm on Christmas morning became a holiday favorite memory, a tradition I passed to my family.

The gift of Christmas around the tree with my four sisters, brother and parents was the best gift wrapped that day.
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Thanksgiving and Christmas past replay in the back of my mind as this grown up kid enjoys the seasons of holidays when her children were small.
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Holidays that replay in my mind with my adult children who now have children of their own.

Hearing the electric knife carving our holiday ham and turkey is the dinner bell reminder that a feast is about to be served.

For a family our size in a small single wide trailer, tables are set up in the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. There’s the senior table, the kid’s table and the table for everyone else.  A bit crowded but you’re “home” and that’s all that matters.

So many faces to see during the holidays, some arriving when the military allows, or sadly arriving on Skype instead.
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On Christmas Day there are all those presents to unwrap.

Then there are those hilarious relatives who never pay attention during gifts.

Can’t forget about that game of cards for anyone who dares to sit opposite a card-shark grandmother after dinner.
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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas though without that angel found sitting in her Lazyboy;
the centerpiece of our holidays.

Mother taught us how to make the holidays magical, and now our children are making the seasons bright in their own homes, all because our family matriarch had a special heart for Christmas.

Two years ago at this time, mother’s address changed as so did our holidays and traditions.

Holidays are now shared between the sisters with this year being at my house, and while we decorate, bake, serve the best feasts and still shuffle those cards after dinner, nothing comes close or compares to going “home” for the holidays.

Before handing over the keys of “home”, my heart needed ONE FINAL HOLIDAY WALK THRU of mother’s house.

Walking through the halls you were deafened by its silence.  The walls were eerie quiet with nothing to say, when before the decibel level was joyfully loud.

Aching over the empty rooms I couldn’t imagine life without our family there to enjoy them.

How I wanted to set out mother’s Christmas decorations just one more time.

We as a family grieve over the empty chairs of loved ones we once shared the holidays with, whose health or life with Christ keeps them away.  We miss them so  terribly.

Sadly, mother’s “home” is all packed up now and the front door has closed for the very last time.
boxes of moms stuff

Something shifts when the tradition torch is passed to the next generation.

The magic and the memories remain in your heart, but a shift takes place and has to make room for the new traditions beyond the Christmas present.

My heart overflows with thankfulness nevertheless this Thanksgiving season with the joy of the Lord, as He is the source of all my true hope and love.

I am thankful for my memories.

I look forward to new traditions and memories also.

I am a blessed woman.

This Thanksgiving I will once again take inventory of all my blessings and rejoice for the riches of heaven in my home.

I pray that my mother’s holiday legacy lives on in my brother and sister’s lives as well as mine passed to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren and beyond.

May we all be thankful for what God has done and is still doing in our life.

May we remember and hold close to our heart the true

REASON FOR THE SEASON

Which is Christ Jesus our Lord.