This weekend my youngest son will marry


She is a gift, this answer to the Ephesians 3:20 prayer I have been sending up for my children these past two years

He will marry a beautiful girl whose light shines from her eyes

when she tells stories about her second-grade students at the dinner table.

When she expresses her concerns about their antics.

When she voices she just wants them to be the best person they could be.


I remember this voice, this teacher heart,  in the voice of my son’s grandmother,

his Lola, my mother.

Who taught third grade for seventeen years.

Who poured love and light to her students just like my son’s bride.

The other day my son called.

“I miss Lola,”  he said.

“I will miss her being at my wedding.

Mom, will you carry a lantern down the aisle

A reminder that Lola is with us?”

I chose a small wooden lantern yesterday.

One with silver filigree at the top.

The filigree design reminded me of the silver rosary I bought for her on a visit to the Vatican

where I lit a candle at the altar in honor of her.

Her name means light, Luz Divina, Ludivina.

And I will light a candle in this lantern in memory of her

Moments before I walk down the aisle on the arm of my son

Who will  hold me on his arm the way he did his grandmother

when he cared for her for many years.

He will stand at my side the way he did for her, the way he will for eternity stand by the side of his bride, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.

He knows what that means, in sickness and in health.

He stood by Lola’s side for many years.


My mother was at his side moments after he was born.

She was at his side for swim meets and graduation.

He was at her side for years, cooking with her,

playing Chinese checkers with her

eventually caring for her

helping her up when she could stand no longer

when she could not remember his name.

He was there after her light was extinguished.

The light that continues to shine in the light of his eyes.

The light we will carry to the altar when he joins his life with one whose light shines like hers

Lola met her, his bride.

She held Lola’s hand at her bedside only months ago.

Lola smiled when she told her she was a teacher too.


“ l like her,” Lola whispered to me

“I do too,” I told her,

“She has a heart like yours..”

I am honored to publish two poems about my mother in the December issue of the online publication, the Write Launch.

Please click on the link to view “Gather at Colvos Passage” and “Legacy”

An Affair to Remember….one couple inspires the destiny of four generations


Today would be my parents 60th wedding anniversary.

The influence of my parent’s marriage was shaped by the events at Pearl Harbor commemorated only a few days ago.

For their life as a couple brought together in the Philippines after WWII and their dream of establishing life in America have impacted not only my family but generations to follow.

Their sacrifice opened the door of opportunity for others to come.

To follow a longing for a better life.

To persevere.

To establish a dream come true.

Their first date was in a theater in Manila watching the American Film, “An Affair to Remember”.

They watched the iconic images of American life flash by on the big screen.. the polished kitchen beautiful furniture, lovely clothes, big automobiles.

My father turned to her and asked, “Would you like to have a good life In America?”

She turned to him and answered,  “Yes.”

Six weeks later they wed in a civil service ceremony before he returned to the United States after a four week leave as a sergeant in the US Army.

This is their only photograph.


The union of two lives impacted by historic events

opened the door of destiny for generations to follow.

Three days ago I attended the 78thanniversary of the Pearl Harbor Memorial. Every year my father would announce on December 7, “Today is Pearl Harbor Day”.

I sat among those who had survived Pearl Harbor, the event that changed the course of history for the world. For my family.

I sat next to a woman wearing a lei, nestled in a red wheelchair just like the one I had pushed my mother in for years.  Her crown of grey hair, the way she lifted her chin to smile reminded me of my mother who I lost only months ago

Her name was Elsie.


She came as an invited guest here, a Pearl Harbor survivor. Her sister Matilde was only 12 years old when shrapnel from a bombing hit her in the chest and killed her.  She was standing on the steps of her house that morning, the morning Elsie remembers hearing the planes flying overhead.  She has never heard and will never forget that sound she said.

The first wave of planes had already bombed the harbor. Her father was on the way to help.  She and her mother were scavenging the house looking for emergency materials, s that could possibly be of any help on base when the second wave occurred of bombing occurred

Her mother cradled her sister in her arms.  Her sister only one year older than her.  They did not tell their father until that night when he returned home, after the longest day of his life, coming to the aid and rescue of those injured at Pearl harbor. He came home to find his daughter killed by the shrapnel of an errant missile.



Matilda Kaliko Faufata, the sister of Elsie Miraflor

My father was on another island hundreds of miles away in the Philippines.  Hours later his life was impacted by the events initiated at Pearl Harbor, the act that precipitated US involvement in World War II.  Behind the M1 Carbines in the bunkers of Fort Stotsenberg he would hear the same drone of the Japanese Zero planes over head, catching another fleet of US Army unprepared for the bombing overhead.

The crippling of the American Fleet in Pearl Harbor and hours later on Clark Air base in the Philippines marked the beginning of the end for the troops on ground to fight in the jungles of Bataan, just south of Manila.  My father fought in bunkers and jungles alongside American soldiers from December through April 9.  One day after Easter. But the day that marks spiritual freedom for others became the remained 75,000 exhausted and emaciated soldiers last day of freedom.  American troops surrendered to the Japanese the next day, for, as their leader spoke,  there is only so much a man can endure.  These men have endured all past endurance

Miles from here another 12-year old, my mother, took her toddler brother by the hand, and walked with him sixty miles from her province towards Manila.  Her brothers had been tortured by Japanese soldiers, one brother, a priest, killed, accused of being a spy.  She fled on foot to safety with the crowds of others moving towards Manila

Meanwhile my father had escaped the line of troops captured by the Japanese.  Slipping into a rice paddy face down into the water he lay prone for hours until the troops passes.  Shaking from malaria and emaciated from the previous months with no food supplies, my father made his way  on foot to his mother’s nipa hut in the province.  He recovered there until the troops barreled by in trucks to return to his unit at the end of the war.  For his service he was awarded US Citizenship. 75 years later he would be awarded the Gold Congressional Medal of Honor.


from “A Dreadful Step” 2010


My mother Ludivina Bermudez received the Gold Congressional Medal of Honor one day after her 94th birthday last year. Her grandson Daniel Mogg wears his grandfather’s Army fatigues

These acts of bravery determination and endurance have passed on into our lifebloodas their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews carry on.

Children of his nieces and nephews who first stayed with my parents in their split-level suburban home have gone on to serve the United States. One is a Major in the air force,  one a Lieutenant Colonel in the army, one a Captain in the air force.  My father, an enlisted man  would beam with pride that his name lives on in an officer’s uniform.

“The fact that we are here today citizens and friends of the greatest land on earth is a  manifestation of the immeasurable debt we owe to them and to those who wear the cloth that defends us now.  The greatest generation underlined a pivotal role that we may enjoy the freedoms we enjoy today for boldly defending America in her time of greatest need.” Ambassador Harry Harris,US Ambassador to Korea at the Pearl Harbor Ceremony


The greatest generation paved the way for generations to follow

This week my cousin’s daughter will open a restaurant in Seattle.

My cousin, a daughter of the Philippines.  Her daughter, a daughter born in America.

Her mother remembers receiving airmail letters postmarked from America.  When she was 12 years old she would hurriedly bring the letter to her mother to open. Spilling out of the envelope would be black and white photographs of my sister and I in matching outfits in front of our split level yellow house, and in neat cursive handwriting scripted by my mother stories about our life in America.

It seemed like a dream to my cousin.

A decade later my cousin would sit in the kitchen of the home she only dreamed about in photographs, discussing with my mother as she cooked over the stove the possibilities open for her life in America.

This restaurant is a place inspired by four generations of family determined and dedicated to building a life her and preserving the life of family

“If you want to know what Musang is and you want to know me and  what my family is look at my cousins they are the craziest people in the world we raised each other..  we raised each other   if you want to know me and why this exists it’s because of them and their kids.” Melissa Miranda


Third generation cousins born in America with Melissa Miranda and her father, Musang

The same kitchen where her mother first found shelter when she immigrated from the Philippines is the same kitchen where a 12 year old Melissa girl peeked around the corner observing the dance of a traditional Filipino meal two decades later,

and the same kitchen where her grand aunt first served the lumpia shanghai she serves on platters this opening night.

It is the same kitchen where her own mother sat at the countertop, listening to the advice of her granduncle, my father, the one who signed the affidavit of support for her to come to the United States.  The one who fought in the jungles of Bataan.  The one who always remembered Pearl Harbor Day.

The dream was always of a better life.

My father would fight so that one day he would have opportunity in America. Generations behind him would also find opportunity.

Nearly eight decades after his fight

his grandniece stands on the floor of a newly refurbished restaurant, with four generations that represent his family


Melissa Miranda, owner of Musang Seattle with her grandfather, Juanito Bermudez


His brother and wife, my mother’s sister, the first generation to join my parents.

The second generation of cousins emigrating to America.

The third of those born in America.

And the fourth, those born to them,

stand together on the threshold of a dream,

a dream that carries on the power of family

and grit through the obstacles.


A dream built from a family raising each other.

Raising each other up to be their best.

Being there for one another.

Having each other’s backs, even after backs have been broken

to complete the construction of a vision

that carries on all that really matters:

love, laughter, support

and really, really, really excellent

Filipino food.















December 7. Pearl Harbor Day.




On this day, 77 years ago, the day that would live infamy, bombs stormed over Pearl Harbor.

Several hours later, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

My Father was a Philippine Scout being trained under the command of the United States Army at Fort Stotsenberg the day that Japanese fighters appeared in the sky, firing over troops that had only few hours earlier received word about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“The bombing and raiding of Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field within hours of the raid on Pearl Harbor went virtually unnoticed by the average person in the United States. The attack occured at little after noon, while all our planes—the bombers and P-40s—were lined up in a row on Clark Field.  Finally after what seemed like hours of bombing and strafing, everything became quiet, except for the cries and screams of the wounded lying intermingled with the dead all over the field.  The history books associate Pearl Harbor withe “the day of infamy,” but for those of us in the Philippines it was our day of infamy also.”              Lester I. Tenney, My Hitch in Hell, pg 21

I visited Pearl Harbor last month, gaining a greater appreciation why, growing up, my father would announce on this day, “Today is December 7. Pearl Harbor Day.”

Scratching the surface these past months of my father’s written records of the military service he never verbalized, I understand now why he was quiet.  Why he was silent. What visages must have remained in his dreams and memories that haunted him.

How much in meant, in December 1946, one year after World War II was over, that my father was granted citizenship to the United States of America for his service during the war and for surviving and escaping the brutalities of the Bataan Death March.



It is because of his sacrifice that his name lives on, BERMUDEZ, here in the United States of America, even through three grandnephews who carry on his service today as officers in the United States Army and the United States Air Force.  To you, Julian Bermudez, Michael Ishida, and Chris Ishida, I commend you for carrying the service that my father began.  He would be so proud to see you commissioned as officers in the United States Armed Forces.

It is because of his sacrifice that our family and extended family live here today, educated in major universities, bearing the college degree that he never received but always dreamed of for ourselves and our children.

Yesterday his youngest grandson stood along the train tracks in College Station, Texas, to witness the train of the 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, roll past, carrying his casket on its way to his final resting place at the George Bush Library on the campus of Texas A&M.



President Bush’s service as a naval pilot in the Pacific, and my father’s service as an artillery man on the front lines of Bataan made them both part of the Greatest generation.

Next week my father’s youngest grandson will graduate from Texas A&M University, awaiting admittance into medical school. 

After his graduation ceremony our family will pay tribute on the library grounds to the 41st President of the United States.

But my son’s graduation from college will be a tribute to the sacrifice and dreams of his grandfather.


SGT Jesus C. Bermudez received the Gold Congressional Medal of Honor for his service during World War II on April 15, 2018


Missing Autumn


returned to the Northwest this season, observing fall for the first time in thirty years.

I watched the trees behind my cottage transform from greens to yellow to gold.

The morning sun hits the bank just so, highlighting shades of crimson and sienna and umber against the verdant backdrop along the ridge.



I walk the beach where gold and yellow tumble with stones and sand.

I climb the hill lined with limbs still holding on to gilded gifts.

One releases, and flutters side to side, descending lightly to the ground to rest.


It is right I am here this autumn,

this season of transforming, maturing

grasping, holding on to gifts–

my children, all grown, branching into careers, marriages.

the youngest two in college, one soon to graduate.

my mother, just out of hospice, quieter now

still sees me, translucent, and smiles.

We spend time browsing through sheaves of photographs

Some in her season, her prime.



I see myself reflected in her smile

those years when she was young

surrounded by friends

and family

when she was a young mother

holding on to us

then letting go

her season follows traveling with Dad

places they dreamed of Rome, Israel,

now alone, in her autumn.



uphill journey rises

crests at forest’s peak, descends 

as crimson leaves fall


autumn: n.

a time of full maturity, especially the late stages of full maturity or, sometimes, the early stages of decline


In this autumn 

I will watch leaves drift unto the path

gathering with others that have done the same.

I will hold in wonder their change

the beauty of ripening, then release.

I will stand still 

to catch my breath, not listening to former urges

to press forward.


Instead I will gather leaves

that descend upon my way

Press them into my book

to remember.


A tribute to my father……


I am grateful to share my father’s and my family’s story as a guest blogger on

I am even more grateful for the legacy my parents have left to our family and our children.

Please join the link

Messy Edges….Lola’s story in print available today!


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Lola, as my mom is lovingly known (Lola means “grandmother” in Tagalog), celebrated her 94th birthday last weekend.  The greatest tribute I could give my mother is to write a story about her beautiful heart.  On her birthday I had the honor of presenting for the first time an essay entitled “Messy Edges” at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  This story briefly encapsulates the beauty and the heartbreak of caring for my mother in my home for eight years, and the release I found during that time through the gift of watercolor painting.  The essay is published in an anthology entitled, The Wonder Years, 40 Women over 40 on Faith, Aging, Beauty and Strength, edited by my dear mentor and friend Leslie Leyland Fields.




(excerpt from “Messy Edges)

My mother is still with me as I write this. Today, I stop when she notices a red geranium, just like the ones she used to have outside her home.

 “What flower is that, Mom?” I ask her. 

She looks at it and smiles. “Geranium,” she whispers. 

She smiles and time stands still. She pushes me to see beauty and wonder in every small thing, as if for the first time. My mother, even in her illness, gives me this gift, this gift of seeing. When I paint, these are the moments I try to capture. A field of sunflowers, a field of lavender. I try to keep the colors pure and vibrant on the paper, not muddied.   I try to use brushstrokes that remain fresh and lively, not overworked. For previously I was holding on, too tightly, to the brush, to mom’s health, to life, afraid to loosen the grip, to lose control of the things I could not control.  Now I understand  that beauty unfolds in the letting go, in allowing the messy edges to bleed. 

My story is one of many, glimpses into the lives of 40 women and the firsts, lasts, and always moments they have experienced during this season of life.  I am honored to have Lola’s story tucked between authors I admire such as Ann Voskamp, Elisabeth Eliot, Madeline L’Engle, Luci Shaw, Brene Brown, Lauren Winner and Jill Kandel. Each story is beautifully crafted, leaving the reader with a takeaway that could make you laugh out loud, cry, or sigh in relief knowing someone else shares your voice.

The greatest joy of this story is the hope and strength I have received in being able now to transform a difficult time in my life and my family’s life into a place of encouragement  to others along the same journey.

Please pick up your copy of The Wonder Years today on Amazon.  If you need more convincing, please check out Lola’s promotional video below!  I had the privilege of reading it out loud to her, and she wholeheartedly approves.


“What more important, Lola?  Faith, Beauty or Strength?”

“All of them,” she says with a smile.