LOT 232  By Lori A Alicea

Hard to believe six months have already passed us by.

During this short season the landscape of our life has been painfully pruned back by the gardener, fertilized and re-seeded for new and beautiful growth; but yet, that most sacred ground and scenery of our heart has remained untouched, unchanged.

Time does not discriminate and show favor to the weary, the broken, and those resisting the shears of the gardener’s pruning.

But life goes on as it should.

There’s wonder and beauty to be unwrapped and unveiled to those willing to continue their passage through the steep hills and rough terrain of change.

Remembering there are no shortcuts or detours, just one-way signs of “going thru” that difficult process of mining the heartache to discover those diamonds of new beginnings.

Lot 232 remains just as I remember.


The furniture hasn’t moved nor any picture or book out of place since I cleaned it last.

coffee table

Contagious laughter of small children still echoes from the walls that captured their innocence seated around the table, each eating the spoils from the scavenger hunts of their grandmother’s cupboards.

moms table

The smells of the kitchen still retain their aromatic flavor and the recipes and memories remain that once framed the holiday dinner portraits at moms; the legacy gift I cherish most from her.

salt and pepper shakers

 Evident from the unwrinkled comforter, mother’s bed hasn’t been slept in; although the soft music she used to play continuously from the small radio on her nightstand can be slightly heard if I lean in ever so closely.

moms room

Lot 232 hasn’t changed a bit in my heart, but of all the details I wish I could change, it would be that my key to Lot 232 still opened the front door to my mother’s life.

So much has changed these last six months and yet, that most sacred ground and scenery of our heart has remained untouched, unchanged.

Daughters are little girls who never outgrow the need to share those heart gushes with her mother.

Grandchildren need those rocking chair moments with their grandmother too.

grandma in chair

The merry-go-round of living keeps spinning and changing, and how I desperately want off this ride.

But life must go on as it should;
Walking in the peace,
The calm and
Serenity of God’s love;

A journey that allows the Father to carry our troubles while carrying us when we need Him to.

Going on” mandates the “letting go” of what our heart strings desperately cling to. It’s giving to God what has been His from the beginning.

There’s no looking back in the rear view mirror when your life is moving forward.

We must allow God to pack our suitcase of memories; a loving tour guide who encourages traveling light, not weighted down from the cares of what “used to be”.

I sure love you mom.

I love mom

I keep your beautiful smile in my heart of remembrances.

face of our holidays

Your prayers for the three generations you petitioned God for were not in vain.

moms prayers

Your prayers have taught us to place our hope in God.


And accept the things we cannot change.

Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can and
Wisdom to know the difference.

I drove by Lot 232 just the other day; an address one street over from when we used to be neighbors.  Seems like yesterday we were sharing an early morning cup of coffee together on your porch.

They say you can take the neighbor out of the neighborhood, but never the neighborhood from the neighbor.

We’ll always be neighbor’s mom.

Addresses may change.
But keys to the front door of our memories will never need a locksmith.

Thank you God for Lot 232.

I have no doubt my mother didn’t need a change of address in heaven.

I’ll know exactly where to find her.

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

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.

a graveside burial hearst USE
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
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


Four years ago this October God blessed David and I with an anniversary gift, yet didn’t realize it at the time.

Four years ago we were planning our romantic anniversary getaway to our quiet honeymoon place on the lake, only to find there were no vacancies for the full month of October.


This had never happened to us after celebrating most of our wedding anniversaries here at our quaint bed and breakfast hideaway for two.  We opted for an earlier stay in September, but thought it quite odd after twenty-two years of October reservations, there were no weekends available during this off-season for us.

Gifts come wrapped in paper that don’t always appear as gifts on first glance.

God’s anniversary gift to us that October weekend amazingly was keeping us home, though our hearts longed our special stay overlooking the lake.


David and I felt out of place being home that October weekend, and eerily, we both felt like something was terribly wrong, yet didn’t know what.

We went thru our day as usual but kept asking each other, “Do you sense God trying to get our attention but can’t figure out why?”  We both nodded our yes.

By the end of the evening, God’s voice became too loud to ignore and panic immediately struck.  David grabbed his keys and yelled, “Somethings wrong with mom, let’s go.”

Living one street over from our mother made getting to her in seconds.  But she wasn’t answering our calls; the loud pounding on the front door or bedroom window either.  Our fear level was rising.

Busting down the door should have been our next response, but we drove to my sister’s house for the keys instead, quite possibly wasting precious time.

Bombarding heaven in prayer while driving back to our mothers, we believed for the best while preparing our hearts for the absolute worst.

I couldn’t go in.

David stormed mother’s room to find her barely alive, but alive she still was.

An anniversary gift we didn’t expect.

God knew in advance our mother’s plight and His love for her kept us home that October when in years past, we would have been away celebrating our love and life together.

That weekend doctors confirmed our mother wouldn’t be coming home to the home she once knew, and hence, mother’s life would become a million packed boxes and an hourglass of descending grains of sands slowly keeping time for Our Long Good-by.

Good-by as a family with their mother began four years ago during the holiday season I journaled in the following blog.

After that first holiday season, my journal finds its place and returns to the final months of Our Long Good-by with mom.

ethan praying

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mother raised her children to love and serve God, the foundation that gave our family hope during those storms of hard times.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


Which is Christ Jesus our Lord

Four years later…

The hourglass sands are still keeping time with Our Long Good-bye.

Mother is still with us four years later, but our days with mother changes as her health does, though she never complains.

Through these last four years mother has been able to attend our family events, which lit up a little girl’s day like a Christmas tree.  The nursing home hairdresser has been overly kind to fix mother’s hair on his days off and the salon coordinated her nail polish with mother’s red hair and lipstick.  Mother’s joy to “bust out” of those four walls for the day was evident in her smile, but we sensed the silence in bringing her back.  Just recently mother was planning her health comeback to attend our Thanksgiving festivities.  Yes, mom was all about the holidays.


Mother turned eighty years young this past July.

Mother wanted a party and a party she got.

decoration - sign

A Princess for A Day Event

decorations crown 1

With the unusual circumstances of the year, mother had to enjoy watching her 80th celebration from the nursing home window.  But mother didn’t care. Our Princess seated regally on her throne, watched from her front row seat the royal carpet rolled out before her.

It was a day like no other.

window - mom

God gave us an unforgettable gift in Our Long Good-by;  A Perfect Day.

guests - moms family

Amazing how a few months can change from a perfect day to weeks of uncertainty.

Our Long Good-by finds us now keeping vigil by mother’s window.





IMG_2437The hourglass has nearly emptied its sands, signaling a close to Our Long Good-by.

Mother struggled to hear and carry on a faint conversation with us for as many days as she could.  In the end we continued to hold our end of the conversation, trusting in some way she was keeping up on hers.

With this year of restrictions, we children and grandchildren felt cheated and robbed of holding our beloved’s hand during these last remaining moments with her on this earth while heaven prepared to receive their newest angel.

But we count it all joy and rejoice for her eighty years of a wonderful life well lived before us, not lamenting for what we wish her last days could be; instead remembering the perfect day we recently spent together on her birthday.

Our Long Good-by has been a gift many don’t receive before their loved one enters eternity.

We have been given four extra years to enjoy our mother, to appreciate and value her and tell her so while she was alive to receive our gratitude; not at a memorial service where our words come too late.

A year ago mother looked so beautiful at our 25th Wedding Anniversary; probably the best I’d ever seen.


On this anniversary day, God was still handing out anniversary gifts for Our Long Good-by.

Of all the pictures I have with mom, this has to be my favorite.

The gift of family is all mother ever wanted.

25th anniversary family table

Thank you God for 80 wonderful years with our mother.  She gave us life, our memories, and an introduction to your son Jesus for which we are most grateful, because we will spend eternity together in our saying “yes” to Him.

Yes, we will see her again.

Our Long Good-by is just a pause until Our Grand Hello in Heaven.

Until then, keep watch over us mother if there is a window to look thru in heaven.

window - mom

I kinda doubt it as you will be much too busy walking the streets of gold with Jesus.

Give our sisters Belinda and Mary a hug.  Tell them they only have you to themselves for a short time.  Make sure you’re nice to Roger too.

Welcome Home Mom!
Welcome Home!

In your absence, this light I once planted under your nursing home window so you could think of us in your loneliness, is now planted in my small garden so I might think of you in mine.


No one knows when their hour will come… Ecclesiastes 9:12 NIV

Enjoy today filled to the rim with pure joy, without regrets and keeping short accounts with others, as the sun setting at dusk might be goodbye.