GOOD-BYE TO STUFF Part 1  By Lori A Alicea

From the outside looking in among the skyscraper of boxes towering to the storage ceiling, you surrender to the fact over time it’s just stuff.

You can’t take it with you as moving trucks don’t deliver to the doorsteps of eternity.

The shelf life of stuff expires on a daily basis, yet a storage bill continues to be paid by the month.

To locate anything is a mini moving day event, dragging out bikes and furniture and boxes of “who knows what anymore” so one can hike over mountains of barely labeled stuff on a search and rescue mission without a map.

Yes, at the end of the day, it’s just stuff.

Well…until you start opening the boxes again.STORAGE 1 Full

A walk-through of my house lends you to believe that everything has its place.

Where clutter is an unwanted guest;

Counters are cleared and appliances sparkle;

Beds are made and pillows fluffed;

Yes, everything has its place, until you dare to venture into the closets, a mini storage unit where this collection of stuff begins.IMG_9340

Storage space and stuff was never a problem when your country three bedroom home and attached garage nestles hidden under the lofty trees of two acres.HOUSE Wheeler

Stuff didn’t follow or crowd our closets after moving to a three bedroom double-wide trailer either.

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But somehow during a seven year period and two more moves, stuff from our four children, ten grandchildren, crafts and centerpieces from all the events I decorated for accumulated under the radar into a small city of boxes, an abandoned neighborhood waiting its turn to be torn down.

Tired of paying a storage bill for stuff we weren’t using or enjoying or had any room in the house for was a decision elementary to make; at least when looking from the outside into the skyscraper of boxes.

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A Christmas morning of opening boxes though you discover why you kept its contents in the first place and wonder how a mother / grandmother will have the will or heart to finally let them go.

Memories and moments from our children growing up are unearthed beneath the packing paper and bubble wrap; school day accolades and accomplishments thoughtfully kept for their remembrance one day. As parents now themselves, I suppose that one day has come.

Weddings and baby showers are celebrated once more through the kept centerpieces in Storage Unit Number 56.

Blessed with ten grandchildren who each have uniquely stole her heart, I’m reliving their firsts and young lives while quietly seated on another box yet to be unveiled.

Only a grandmother would sigh under her breath while holding her babies once used bottles, Toy Story plates, locks of hair, special outfits, scribbles of artwork, old toys and blankets I once swaddled them in.

What to do with those first birthday decorations a grandmother created just for them; and every birthday beyond?  What to do with their tables and chairs perfectly sized for a child.  The meals and playtime sitting and fighting over their colored chair.  But now they sit at the adult table yet we miss seeing them at their table.8C133E6A-8902-4AF1-A07F-4E99D77F8256

So many boxes were re-taped and re-shelved for another look.

But the pain of letting go had to begin, with the sharpest of pain ever to my heart was saying good-by to all their bikes.

Their collection of bicycles began with a Spider-man tri-cycle and a Batman four-wheeler. The vivid memories of little feet first learning to pedal or navigate a battery-operated vehicle still replay in my mind, capturing the laughter of child play and cries in their spills.

BIKES brodie brystol ethan on little bikes with noah

As the grandchildren grew, so did their bicycles, each passing their hand-me-downs to their cousins next in line, cousins not caring or noticing the weathered condition of their used transportation.

All those morning trips to the park in their pajamas;

All those trips to Papa’s Store (Dollar General) for a two dollar bag of treats for each;

The grandchildren have all outgrown their wheels most rescued and re-purposed from trash cans of others.

Now living where we do, there’s no place to ride or store them anymore.

My tears followed ten bicycles of all sizes complete with helmets and baskets being loaded up on the moving trailer, wanting desperately to keep them all behind.

Rest assured though these trikes and bikes are now loved by children living at a motel converted to low income housing we delivered them too.

The delight and smiles of children flocking to a trailer and picking out their new bike; immediately donning their helmets and trying out their wheels for the first time; a gift worth giving to see them light up like a Christmas tree in October.

Thank you God for the miles of riding memories we created together.

Then are the difficult good-byes to stuff bequeathed from my mother’s house in her passing one year ago. While salvaging a few special tokens of my mother’s life, including the table we sat around during the holidays, the remainder of her estate at Lot 232 was donated to the local Goodwill.

Thankfully, the pictures I took of my mother’s house still intact before its dismantling into a million boxes will be a sweet reminder to reflect from.

Christmas Eve at my father’s house will continue to be celebrated in my kitchen through the bake-ware he created his holiday pastries with.  But sadly, the remainder of memories I set aside from his house was donated to Goodwill also.

Hardest ever was letting go of my Hobby Lobby storage craft store.  Group text messages of crafters surely went out, sounding the alarm  of Black Friday finds at the local Goodwill.  Stampedes thankfully weren’t reported.

Good-bye to stuff Part 1 is officially complete.

All the boxes we opened and closed from those lives who call us Mom and Dad; Papa and Gaga; stuff once bound and taped in boxes have found their freedom in other homes; well, not everything.

All the joy and sadness reminiscing the seasons of parenting and grand-parenting, now part of our past.

Yes, at the end of the day it’s still stuff.

You can’t take it with you to heaven.

But trapped in this stuff are moments and memories of our children’s lives from their school days and wedding days.

Trapped in this stuff are our grandchildren’s lives when they were little, first bursting into the scenes of our hearts and how we long to keep them there.

For me at least, it’s painful to let these seasons find a proper place in their scrapbooks.

But like stuff, you have to give them wings to fly into the winds of their destiny.

I’m not completely there just yet.

Stay tuned for Good-bye to Stuff Part 2 in Storage Unit Number 1 sometime next spring.

STORAGE 2

ANOTHER MILITARY MOVE By Lori A Alicea

It’s only been three years this time.

Three years to meet the neighbors and become a block of friends and family.
Three years for the kids to find their group of friends in

Soccer

Gymnastics
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Church
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Dance
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Girl Scouts
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Three years to become part of the children’s school as room mother.

Three years to find all the hideaway running and bicycle trails to adventure on.
2019 england fathers day adventure 7Three years to add another baby to the family portrait.

Three years to remodel a fixer-upper to make a house a home.
IMG_8538It’s been only three short years and it is time to pull the tent-spikes from their temporary home as the Army orders for our son and family have been served and it’s now time for another military move.

Home is your safe place, your place of refuge.
IMG_8537Home is where you hang your hat.
Home is where you can be yourself.
Home is that door post where you keep a record of your children’s growth chart.
Home is that table of family dinners and conversation.
Home is that bed of sweet dreams where only your pillow and blanket will do.
Home is your address where memories are made.

Home is that backyard created for children in mind.

To swing.

To sit by the campfire.

Home is a set of front steps that welcome you with open arms after being gone all day, or a seat where children eat their morning breakfast of donuts.
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But duty calls and now it’s time to say goodbye.
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It’s time to pack up the house and forward the mail. It’s a time to say goodbye to the friends, the familiar, your favorite coffee shop, the usual route to work.  It’s a time to hug that faithful babysitter you entrusted with your children.  It’s time to find a new home for the outside cat that welcomed you in the neighborhood three years ago and never left.
USE THIS CATBeing a member of the military you accept their core values, and one of them is honor.

Regarding honor, the Army states that:

Honor is the one that embodies all the others. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.”

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It’s that selfless service putting America first that makes serving in the military so hard. But you embrace the call and grace to serve your country well with pride and great courage.

Serving your country requires great sacrifice, especially family ties that must endure the heart’s tug of war of those frequent goodbyes. As grandparents we must be willing to let our grandchildren go with love and joy as the call to serve is a family affair.

This past weekend my husband and I spent many hours driving to bring our four babies home so we could reunite the cousins who haven’t been together for over three years. We wanted this special time together as a family before our military babies leave again for another three year journey, much farther than ever before.  They won’t be within driving reach anymore and we will rely on technology to watch them grow.

How the faces of our little loves have changed since the last sleepover three years ago. A few of our grandchildren weren’t even born yet.

We had to get one last bike ride in for the memory books. And so much more.
IMG_0181These four faces will be unrecognizable in three years from the smiles we see today. Letting go is bittersweet.  We can’t be selfish to hold them back, but a grandparent’s heart tells us to scoop them in our arms and never let go.
IMG_0184In times of sadness we lean on our faith in God, as he has mapped out our lives, he’s ordered our steps. God has a great big wonderful plan if we’d trust him and embrace it.

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.   Psalm 37:23 (KJV)
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If our steps are ordered; and God loves us more than we could imagine, then who are we to argue with God in this military move.
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