MAYBE NOT A PERFECT LIFE…By Lori A Alicea

Seems like a lifetime ago when you consider all the growing, the milestones and memories I’ve missed.

Such is the heart of this long distance grandmother who yearns for more than summer visits with those heartstrings; her military grandchildren who each share something special with her; a middle name, green eyes, writing giftedness, or even a sassy attitude to laugh about.

I’m beyond thrilled to be back on this island after a year away from my military son, daughter, and four grandchildren, hoping to fill up as many photo albums as possible in the short three weeks I’m here.

Upon my arrival, I’ll pull out the bookmark from the last chapter of time we shared together as a family. But it almost makes more sense to start fresh from the blank pages of a brand new book, as my grandchildren continued to write their story chapter after chapter beyond the paragraph I boarded the plane for home one year ago, while a grandmother kept her place in the book with those four sweet faces she sadly kissed goodbye to.E23DB298-C57F-4A9A-9A98-C6A6FFF05DA4There are rules when Gaga comes to visit.

My daughter is off the clock from cooking, laundry, driving to practices, only to fill her schedule with hair and nail appointments, coffee dates and whatever else she desires.

For three weeks, every question my grandchildren ask ends with a yes.

“Gaga, can you make homemade chocolate chip cookies for my soccer team’s snack day?”  “Of course I can!”

“Can you watch me practice for soccer even though it’s raining?”  “I wouldn’t miss it.”

”Gaga, Watch me climb this tree.”  “Just long enough until I get a picture.” D6D6CD0C-0FDB-4DC1-884C-CFD3F1B1A4DE

The two little girls would rather me pick them up from school and us three walk together all the way home in Hawaii heat, with me trusting a five-year-old and seven-year-old to lead the way, including short cuts through a shady alley…. It’s comedy hour every afternoon on our walks home together. Oh, the stories they tell.

Not knowing the island, my nine-year-old navigates the way home from soccer practice, in the dark.

There are swim lessons.

There is Sunday service at church sitting side-by-side with my children.

There’s jujitsu practice for all four kids, multiple nights a week. FC0F402B-0269-4205-B480-D0D212426E75

There is quality time around the table eating dinner; the hour I treasure most, especially conversations with my son whom I miss so much throughout the year. 8E2FA8AB-98C1-44B0-99EB-5681BEC91011And all those favorite homemade meals I pack the freezer with, so my daughter continues her staycation for at least a week after I depart.

Something I do for myself and by myself, are those quiet moments with God, sitting along the shoreline, listening and relaxing to the soothing music of waves that crash and wash against my feet. 954EC818-7517-48D6-8575-F329306523E5My mind wanders back to the mainland where my handsome love is patiently waiting my return; missing me as much as I am missing him. We are so thankful for technology during these separations, as FaceTime bridges the lonely miles. 36945941-3F3D-4A67-811E-1192E2F91CD0Long distance grandparenting has a steep cost, and this is one of them.

You don’t get to pick and choose a perfect life; yet we are given the opportunity to mine the gold of blessings God has hidden for each of us to find.

A journey of contentment leads to the blessed life, not necessarily the best life the world says you deserve.

My military grandchildren don’t have access to my cookie jar of homemade treats, but I sure load up the suitcase each time I visit.

I wish my military family sat around the kitchen table for Sunday dinner with their siblings and cousins, but I can leave the freezer full of homemade love before the airplane takes me “home away from their home” once again.

While it’s true, you don’t get to pick and choose a perfect life, but I choose to find the peace, love and joy in a long distance life I have as a grandmother.E23DB298-C57F-4A9A-9A98-C6A6FFF05DA4

COMEDY TO THE CAR LINE  By Lori A Alicea

We’ve all been there.

Overworked.
Overly exhausted.
Sleep walking thru life.

With looming questions amid the days fog,
How did I get home today?”
Did I feed my kids?”

But after a day’s rest and sanity returns,
You pull up a chair and laugh at the comedy act
Your life has been the previous shift.

Thirty-six years ago as a shift-working mother of two small children, I’d love to re-play the comedy series of getting to work before midnight in the blistering snow storms of winter, with wind gusts at my face and hair blowing in all directions, barely holding on to a crying baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (maybe a snowsuit) and a five year old up the two acre driveway in knee deep drifts to the car.ALICEA David Lori

Half asleep, I’ve signed my share of permission slips in crayon.

No doubt I’ve been reported to the Department of Transportation many December mornings back then after a midnight shift. For them to be on the lookout for a crazy woman with the window down, driving and smashing her face with handfuls of snow; when in reality, waking up a mother’s tired eyes both fast asleep.

Yes, life can be a comedy act and it does a body good to laugh.

I’m a grandmother now, reliving a once young life and humor through her adult daughter and family with small children in what could be promoted as a hilarious series, “Comedy to the Car Line.”

It’s true, I am the most unlikely critic for humor after being told over the years my “funny bone” was left behind as a child in a lost and found box, yet I still find this seriously funny.

While names and images have been changed to protect these parents both sleep deprived and frazzled, I introduce to you the cast; a mom and dad of Big Sis, Lil’ Sis, and older brother Buddy.

What started out as an early morning pick up of Lil’ Sis before her two other siblings left for school, turned into a forty-five minute comedy act of laughter I kept to myself, as sleep-walking parents don’t find much funny when their pillows and covers cry out for them.CUMBEE Aubrey

Returning home from a stretch of twelve hour evenings still wearing his work clothes and coat, half-awake at the kitchen counter, dad packs lunch boxes and book bags for three young children, while mounds of unfolded laundry stare back.CUMBEE Kyle

In constant motion, I keep my eye on mom who wears the carpet thin from the miles she puts in from the living room to the bedrooms located in the back, exhausted from the weeks of packing their home for the upcoming move.

Big Sis is performing a circus of continuous cartwheels next to Lil’ Sis, who watches Monsters Inc. for the umpteenth time while eating her breakfast of cinnamon rolls.

As Buddy body slams the bedroom door while dunking basket after basket, Lil’ Sis’ with her scarry school in session insists on sharing her mother’s delicious homemade recipe of cinnamon rolls with me…first you pop it out of the can…

Big Sis lands a final cartwheel into her signature splits, arms up, eyes facing judge grandmother who watches, “Your turn Gaga”, Big Sis commands, “for the splits.”

This young girl who once did flips, back-walkovers, back handsprings and everything else gymnastics in school, dared to demonstrate to Big Sis the splits as a grandmother a year ago, still able to walk to the car after my performance; a feat Big Sis and big brother Buddy beg me to repeat against my insisted “no.”

Mom, whose messy hair half-secured in a barrette with hands gesturing dad’s slow pace of making lunches, passes the kitchen to the give Lil’ Sis a wardrobe change from her breakfast spills in the bedroom.

Body slamming the bedroom door continues as Big Sis reminds her sandwich making dad she has gym today; yet Buddy dunks another basket and corrects Big Sis simultaneously that she has library, while echoed from the back of the house mom reminds dad it’s his turn in the car line, for which he counters back with the roll of his eyes.

Forty-five minutes of constant motion, a hurried morning of sleep walking parents in desperate straits for the school bell to ring, so they can refuel under the covers of sweet dreams.

Remembering my days as an exhausted parent, I offered to drive to the car line, for which mom and dad both blurted out the hallelujah chorus, sending their kids to the van thirty minutes early.

Arriving to the elementary school for the first time, I questioned Big Buddy if I park behind the van in front of me, for which he retorted, “You mean the Cadillac?” “Well”, I huffed in silence, “the emblem says it’s an Escalade.” “Gaga!”, I hear from the backseat of my car. “No wonder Papa says he’ll never use you as a game show phone-a-friend.”

School is in session and now it’s just Gaga and Lil’ Sis for a quiet ride home for a few hours together before I drop her off at preschool.

I spent the day laughing over and over, re-telling the hilarious story to my husband, replaying the Comedy to the Car Line series to my well-rested daughter a few days later.

Yes, life is brief; it’s a vapor the Bible reminds.

The years of raising young children pass by as a fast moving train; the tracks of your heart left barely traveled in the midst of a blink of an eye.

Yes, life can be a comedy act and it does a body good to laugh.

So…

Always find a reason to laugh.
It may not add years to your life.
But will surely add life to your years.
Author Anonymous

SO LIKE YOUR FATHER By Lori A Alicea

Looking through the mirror of the generations, its reflection reminds us that the years of our grandfathers, fathers, children and grandchildren pass onto each other the similarities of their faces, their subtle mannerisms, what brings them delight and joy.

While many generations try to deny what the mirror reveals as truth, may the eye of the beholder embrace the family history in their smile, the way they stand, and all the answers to who they are in these reflections.

Remembering a time when my great-grandfather, both sets of grandparents and father were still alive and me as a grown daughter with children of my own, I regret terribly not taking those small moments with them to record the details of my lineage through their memories and follow these woven threads that piece together the fabric of my life.

I would have loved to know how my grandparents and father celebrated Christmas as a child.  What where their dreams, disappointments, regrets?  To my great-grandfather, tell me about the Depression Era or going off to war?  Of course it would behoove me not to ask about love, weddings and marriage back in the day, or uncover my grandmother’s wedding dress hidden in her hope chest.  Being known as a book of a million questions, I could cry for the history I didn’t discover while these matriarch and patriarch pillars were still living for me to ask.

As a mother and grandmother with four children and ten grandchildren, I can’t tell you the times when an act, movement or just a glance from one of them stops me with a thought,

“That was so like your father.”

I see that silly smile worn by my son and grandson; both who could easily pass for carbon copies of each other in their antics.
Their grins tell a hilarious story all by itself.

 

I’ve realized the way I stand has been inherited by my son and granddaughter.  So many occasions while growing up my son would casually be browsing for a snack at the refrigerator and I’d see myself in his mannerisms.  Now I catch my granddaughter from those surprise glances of my eye and pause,
“You are so like your father.”

 

I find it amazing that a child’s love for their father’s pick-up truck is passed on down like a family heirloom.

 

Even the thrill seeking adventure of my teenage son jumping curbs and rails stirring the pot of a mother’s hysteria,
Thrill Seeker Jake 1

has revealed itself in my grandchildren when in a child’s delight screams to their daddy while holding for life to their rope swing, GO HIGHER.
Don’t listen to Gaga.  GO HIGHER DADDY!!
Yes, they are so like their father.

 

Lord, help me prepare as the real adventure is yet to come for my grandchildren as my son and “son of a different mother” I claim knows no limits to the life of a thrill-seeker.

 

Turning back the pages of the family bible, I wonder about the grandfather who passed on his trait for wearing suspenders to the young child in my husband.  Being raised in his grandfather’s home, I’m sure their affection for each other was expressed in sharing this iconic fashion statement.
Legs Out David

Through the generations, it’s fascinating that a father’s love for something is embraced in the bloodline of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Baseball can be traced in four generations of my husband’s family.  Many dreams of being discovered into the big leagues were dashed by reality, yet the innings still continue each summer when the umpire yells into the dugout, “Batter up!”

 

Even hobbies can be shared from generation to generation.  My son’s great uncle passed on his square of the family quilt to his nephew and great-nephew through beekeeping.  Imagine raising bees becoming part of your heritage.

 

Generations pass on those coveted traditions that fill in the memories of our childhood.  We remember the joyful moments; the faces we long to see again; the days of old and relive them again through the lives of our children and grandchildren.  Like a father witnessing that coveted milestone in his son’s first birthday, or a son sharing the same milestone when his father celebrates his sixtieth.

 

More than anything, you can’t savor the albums of the generations, reliving history captured through the faces stopped in time and witness with your own eyes without saying,
“You are so like your father.”

A father and son thirty years apart.

 

Dads being dads then sons growing up to be dads.

 

Dads taking on a new role as grandfather and great grandfather, and simply loving it.

 

  Completing the picture framed and titled:
Family through the eyes of four generations
Generations All 4

I can’t close the family bible without retelling the story whose image and likeness we were created, the reason we look like Him in our words, deeds and actions of heart and able to say,

“We are so like our Father.”

In the beginning,

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness….”
Genesis 1:26 NIV

We were created in His image that his character in our love, patience, kindness and faithfulness be seen and embraced by others.

Oh that we be found acting like our Father in a secret act of kindness.
Oh that our patience in a hard situation make our Father proud.
Oh that our Father finds us faithful to the “plough” when others have left their fields and fallen asleep.
Oh that the fullness of our heart overflow onto others that they might be drawn to the Father who loves them best.

May it be sincerely said by the circle of influence that God has encamped around us,

“You are so like your father.”