TREASURES IN THE TRASH By Lori A Alicea

They say that
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Trash by one man’s account has lost its usefulness and worth, yet another man sees re-purpose and a great find.

Most of us have dumpster dived a few times in our life. That “something” catching our eye on Trash Day we quickly throw into the back seat of our car, speeding off before the neighbor catches you and changes their mind.

Trash or treasure?
It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Mile one of our bicycle journey begins on a country stretch of pavement surrounded by acres of cornfields not too far from home. Desiring to enjoy the back roads of a beautiful summer together, my husband and I purchased two bikes and a child’s seat mounted in the back so our small grandchildren could take their turns coming along for the ride.

We had no idea at the time the bicycle miles our journey would take us.
2013 david and ethan on bike rideThat summer all of our grandchildren were small and just learning to ride their tricycles. Not a care in the world had Papa’s babies.  Easy to please on the slide at the park.  They loved riding their bikes in front of our house.  They savored the simple pleasure of eating an ice cream cone in the afternoon shade.

But it doesn’t take long for your grandchildren to outgrow their summer wheels. Saddened for Papa to realize his baby’s legs were too long for their tricycles.  He fought the reminder his babies were growing up way too fast.  If only Papa’s heart could keep up with their bike size.

Passing their trikes to the cousins next in line and ready for training wheels or going solo on bikes sized just right, our grandchildren’s new summer ride would catch Papa’s eye from the curb on Monday’s Trash Day pickup, bicycles no longer loved by one child yet in good enough shape to ride around the block with their Papa and Gaga and loved by another.

Papa would have to buy a new bike for our older grandchild but the others didn’t seem to notice the shiny ride their sister / cousin was sporting. All they knew was how happy they were riding together around the block with their Papa and Gaga, sometimes still wearing their pajamas, most of the time stopping at the park or their grandmother’s house for chips and pop who lived one street over.

The bicycle miles were adding up and so were the memories.

Year after year, no matter the season and as long as the roads were dry, our grandchildren continued to ride these same bicycles rescued from the trash, or bikes they outgrew from home and added to the collection to share.

The many miles we rode together.  With Papa or our oldest grandchild leading the way, so many neighbors waving as our caravan of single-file bicycle riders passed them by.

All those flat tires Papa fixed through the years. The tears and scrapes and band-aid kisses from those bicycle falls.  Adjusting their seats higher when the grandchildren grew.  Gaga freaking out when the kids rode too fast or not looking both ways when passing an intersection.  Though never showing it, it always saddened Papa each time a child ditched their training wheels for freedom without them.

Papa never had the heart to throw out a single bike even when their better days were behind them. How it delighted Papa to see the next child in line to inherit this treasure.

A few weeks ago our four grandchildren from DC enjoyed an extended summer visit with us. Preparing in advance for our evening bike rides with now ten grandchildren, we bought a bike trailer for the two youngest to ride behind my bike.
IMG_9822A smaller Spider Man bike not being used was available for our grandson.
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Yet realizing we were still one bike short for our sweet DC granddaughter.

Our wonderful God was fully aware of this need, and like a good daddy he his, allowed for us to find a beautiful pink bike just for her in the trash to ride this summer, looking as sweet as she did so many years before when our bicycle journey began.

Where have the summer years gone?

Seems like yesterday they needed training wheels. Now they are popping wheelies.

I’d give anything to hear the sound of those clunky training wheels coming down the road.

So many of these babies have loved the view and special time with their Papa from the back seat of his bike.

No matter the wear and tear on these old hand-me-downs, the grandchildren continue to make their memories at Papa’s house while riding their bikes.

Living in farm country now, bike rides find you visiting the local cows to feed them.

I often wonder what people think when hearing the voices of children laughing with each other and begging their Papa to turn on the next street over by the park, as a trail of bicycles pass them by while sitting outside.

As a grandmother, I think of how blessed Papa and I are to have this small window of time with these grandchildren, creating memories with them through the miles we ride together.

Sometimes Papa and I take a break and watch them ride their bicycles in front of the house while we grandparents drink our coffee.

It delights us to watch the street races. To witness the older cousin teaching the younger how to ride a two-wheeler.  To enjoy cousins enjoying each other.

One man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure.

Ask ten grandchildren whose visits with their Papa and Gaga have them travelling the map making a lifetime of memories.

Ask their Papa who knows in the back of his mind that these bikes will one day be ditched for a real set of wheels driving them off for college, but wouldn’t trade a moment or mile with them for a million dollars.

Never parting with any of these trash treasures thus far, as parting with the memories of our babies small is too great, Papa and I did make an exception this summer.

Our four DC babies left our house to visit their other grandparents, and we wanted to make sure they had something to ride with their cousins.

These bikes leaving were a sad reminder of our DC grandchildren saying good-by for a very long time, leaving a trail of tears in their Papa and Gaga’s heart.
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Yet remembering that if our good God saw fit to provide a pink bike for our granddaughter in her time of need, He will make a way for us to be reunited with them for another summer bicycle ride.