from The Baltimore Chop

Those kind of neighborhoods.

The ones that exist in the memory space of black and white TV shows.

I can say I know of one of the most unusual neighborhoods in these times of “move in /move out, build a fence around the yard, stay inside and watch TV” – it is a circle of a neighborhood in Fort Myers Florida where my Mom lived until she passed away last August. Almost a year, sigh.

With passing time, I am left with how much I underestimated that sweet, goofy white haired lady.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

With some irony, this photo was taken in February 2011 when I visited Mom after attending a conference in St Petersburg. It was the last time I saw her smile in person.

I knew she was connected to a number of people there, a lot because she was the bookkeeper for the home owner’s association, and people who stop by to make payments, and gossip. And she had her cookie thing. And the butterfly thing. And she volunteered to cook at her synagogue.

But when my sisters and I visited last November for her memorial service, I was “blown away” by the number of people who all had tearful Alyce stories. People form her bank! I was gobsmacked.

Every single person on that circle of a street not know knew my Mom, but adored her. How did I miss how popular she was, in her humble way?

They’ve put up plaques in her name. Planted a tree in her name. But that’s nothing on this photo her neighbor sent us last week, showing a memorial bench put up near the entry to the community:

Yes, it is a bench. But a bench with a story.

The person who paid for it never knew my mom. It was a gift from the woman who bought Mom’s house. We had gotten an email from one of my Mom’s friend sharing this info:

I woke up thinking of your mom this morning, not sure why she came to me but it made me smile the memories that came to mind. I also had a butterfly fly by me yesterday at home and felt such a peace rush over me, think she wanted to visit for a minute.

Also, didn’t know if you were aware, the new owner of your mom’s place has purchased a memorial bench in Alyce’s name that has been placed along Big Pine Way. She has told some of the board members that living in her place and among some of her furnishings has filled her with such a peaceful and loving feeling that she feels like she knows our beloved Alyce. She said that she could really tell your mom was so very happy in her house and that happiness radiates so much through it that she feels it too. They are also engraving memorial stones to go along with the bench and are trying to find someone who will carve butterflies in the stones as well. Will keep you posted on the progress.

I am thinking of you all and wish you well!! Until next time, may peace surround you with the loving memories of Alyce, I know they certainly surround me when I am in most need of it.

Ok, not only did my Mom touch every neighbor she met, now she is radiating her love to ones she did not.

Now that is a legacy.

When I hear “neighborhood” I usually do not associate to Fred Rogers, but more to the “Everyone in Their Own Box” image of suburbia (where I grew up). Boxes.

But based on Tall Pine Circle, now I have a different image, and it is framed by people.

And with that, a bit of hope. For neighborhoods.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. You are correct. It is a neighborhood unlike any other. I am grateful that I live here. Miss you mom but always remember her when I see the butterflies.


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