The one who stands with us…….

I never thought I would say this.

But I am glad my mother is no longer in this world.

She left this world one year ago today.

I know where she is.

For the morning of her passing

An angel in the form of a cloud hovered over the horizon

I am glad she no longer resides in this world of pain, anger, hurt, destruction.

She is healed and restored.

No longer unable to walk.

No longer unable to remember.

No longer unable to speak.

I pray she would give me her voice to speak for the oppressed.

For throughout her life she was an advocate for those in need.

She opened the doors of her home to those who needed shelter

Not just for a day or two, but for weeks or months

to immigrants coming to America to seek a better life.

She is one who taught the unlovely and children of many colors: white, brown, black, yellow.

Who with compassion and understanding taught the most temperamental and most unlikely to read and write and add their numbers

never unwavering in her care for them.

Fifty years later, a handful of her former third-grade students honored her at her graveside, along with over 150 members of our family from all over the country.

Two of her grandnephews spoke at her memorial, one just hours off a plane from his deployment from Qatar, an officer in the United States Military. The other is also an officer, who recalled how as a young boy she taught him how to read and speak in English, a language that was not his native tongue.

She came to the United States from the Philippines as a wife of an enlisted soldier who defended a country he had never seen during World War II.

She had her own will to fight. She taught me and my sister and our children how to fight. To fight for what is right. For what is true. And to fight with actions that speak love. To nourish others, body and soul. Not only with a plate full of homemade Filipino food, but with words that uplift and bring life and hope to others.

Her words encouraged others. Made them want to be her best. My best friend growing up once told me, “Your mom made me want to always be the best version of my self.”

Not only did she give out words, she was always ready to receive them. She was a listening friend.  She was a listening auntie.  She was a listening mother.

The art of listening, of empathy, of seeing is needed in this world she has left.

This light she carried is the light needed in this world she has left.

Her name, Ludivina, means “light divine”.  Luz divina.

Her light gave her the ability to see, ra’ah, in Hebrew: to perceive the needs of others.

And isn’t that the cry of those around us? To be seen? To be accepted? To be loved? To be cherished?

I see her cry in heaven above, her heart broken for the world she has left.

I pray those she has left behind will stand in her place.

To be a voice for those who have none.

To feed those who need a meal.

To shelter those who need protection.

To love those who need love.

To pray for those in need and those who meet the needs.

I remember her hands, the ones like mine with bony knuckles and arched fingers, ones that one by one fingered the beads of her rosary daily to pray for the needs of others.

I feel her prayers for those she has left behind to stand in her place.

For her grandniece who feeds the needy in her community.

For her grandnephews who defend our country.

For her grandchildren who leave an imprint, her imprint of love in the places where they stand.

To carry her luz divina, her light divine into the darkest places.

“O Ilaw”. Oh, light.

Her grandniece who serves the community: Melissa Miranda

Slowing Time

Time is measured by earth’s revolution around the sun.

One day is measured by earth’s revolution around its axis.

One moment is a division of one day.

These days all moments blur together

but today marks the day Mom would have made 96 revolutions around the sun.

Today is Mom’s birthday.

Only a year ago four generations gathered around her, seated in her wheelchair

Her grandnieces laid a beautiful display of pink peonies and orchids and white roses in her lap. Mom gazed at the blooms in awe and wonder.

She kept asking, are those for me?

Alzheimer’s kept her from recognizing the day, or fretting about time.

There is much she could have taught us in this time of isolation, when days stretch on.

For her mind and her heart lived only in the present moment.

No before, no after, only now.

And there was joy and wonder in every moment, as there was on her 95thbirthday last year.

Her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and their children circled around her to sing Happy Birthday. Her eyes lit up with joy and with a smile joined in to sing happy birthday to herself!

Each hug from her great grandchildren, each kiss on the cheek was treasured by her. As one child stepped away she would wave her hands, beckoning for more hugs and kisses.

Her words were few, but each sound, each gesture voiced one thing: Love.

There is no act to small

no single moment too sacred

no gesture not treasured

in these times when time is slowed.

That is the gift that Alzheimer’s teaches.

That is the gift that isolation teaches.

For as each moment is isolated, one by one,

and one minute blurs into the next

the simple things,

a word of greeting, a wave from across the lawn

a face time call,

bring a smile.

These single treasures bring us joy.

Today I remember the things that brought her joy.

I cut roses from the lawn and put them in a vase.

I light the candle my sister gave her one birthday.

I water the geraniums mom loved in a clay pot.

I play the Mozart sonata she would listen to next to me at the piano.

Mary, Jesus’ mother, who Mom adored,

reflected these words the best, written in the book of Luke,

these words that Mom lived

the words we should live today: His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

As time is slowed, as it did for Mom, we have a choice to treasure each small moment.

Mom is renewed now.

Her mind and body are whole.

Restored to the way it was meant to be.

Free from pain, sorrow and disease.

I am sure from heaven she prays for each of us

that we too will be restored during this time.

Be made whole in body, mind and spirit,

with God.

From heaven she sends me a reminder she is a new creation. A moment ago a swallowtail butterfly landed on this bloom, a Mexican Petunia.

It happened in a moment. There was no time to capture it in a photo. And the blossom of this flower only lasts one day.

Many moments passed by as I stared at the flower, hoping the butterfly would return.

It did not.

A new life……

We put the cross up in the garden yesterday


A cross of pine boards, cut and nailed together by my son and his grandfatherthree years ago for my son’s wedding day.


My son and his bride would stand beneath this cross as they made their vows of commitment to stand by each other

in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer. A commitment tested now, in these times, in this uncertainty. This marriage of three years as well as our own of over three decades are tested in times that challenge our commitment, our steadfastness, our standing with each other.

The cross was the first step of commitment God took with us on that first Easter morning.

The commitment a groom takes to care for his bride on their wedding day reflects the promise God makes with us to stand by us though the difficulties and joys of life.

His death on the cross removed the power of darkness.

This cross was promise covenant, like a marriage covenant,

that God is with us

to give us strength to stand through uncertainty, fear, despair.


A few hours after we stood up the cross in the yard I fell apart.


We saw our son for the first time since this virus changed our world in a matter of

weeks. The tears welled up, my heart tore up at the sight of my son once more in this

house where our four children have grown.


I’ve grown used to the silence now. In fact I enjoy it. Each morning new sounds once

overlooked greet the day….the hoot of an owl, the chirps of a chickadee, the call of a

cardinal. The cry of the sand crane. The sound of the wind.


I was content in this new silence until the sight of my son,

When memories of “how it used to be” blew me over

when the house was full

when walls echoed laughter

when income was secure to provide for our family

when shelves were stocked full on grocery aisles.


We stood the cross up in the garden only hours earlier

a few hours later I need to lay these overwhelming fears and insecurities at its base next

to the palm fronds I had set down that morning.


Saturday morning

the day of the tomb

the day to let things rot and disintegrate

the day to feel, carry burden and discouragement

then bury them in the darkness behind a stone.


For on Sunday morning, light comes.


Just before sunrise I rise.

I cut a peace lily bloom from my yard.

I take one small nail and hammer the bloom into the center of the cross.

The wind stirs around me as if God’s spirit, rhema,

blows hope into the air .

I paddle atop the pond behind my house

As the sun rises over the clouds

casting an orange path on the dark muddy water.

On this new day

the hope of new life shimmers on dark waters.


In the same setting of uncertainty, hidden dangers (alligators?)

there are also lily pads and egrets

and a nest for a family of sand cranes.


The family of four cranes meet me on the shore

A mother, a fathers, and  two fledglings



I have watched their young ones grow during this past month of confinement.

observed their young furry bodies take tentative steps beside their parents.

Their long legs now gracefully stride beside theirs

as they furrow beneath the grass for food.

This patch of grass, once a field for football games and wiffleball tournaments for my

family are now a feeding ground for this family of four.


Side by side the mother and child step.

The mother rustles beneath earth’s surface

gathering seeds into her mouth.

In one practiced movement

transfers nourishment, food,

into her child’s beak.


I hope I have done the same for my children

gifting words of life from my mouth to theirs as they have walked

in the shadow of our steps.


All step into new life this Easter day

Life uncertain, murky like these waters beneath me.

I fix my eyes on the sun rising from the east

that casts a path of light on the darkness

I rise from kneeling on this board on unstable waters

to stand.



“All creatures look to you to give them food at the proper time.

When you give it to them, they gather it up;

when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things…

When. you send your spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the ground.”  Psalm 104:27, 30

























Sea glass: Broken Pieces

My friend told me the story of sea glass:

That true sea glass has rounded edges

And pieces like bottle tops and bottoms are most rare

As are the colors blue and aqua.

And in a piece of true sea glass

The original color remains the same

Only gilded by the coat from the sea.

A myth about sea glass Is to return the broken pieces not yet polished

Back to the sea as you make a wish.

sea glass


This is a journal entry from seven years ago.

The day I first discovered sea glass off a remote shore on Kodiak Island.

It’s strange I would have to go so far to discover something that was near my backyard in Steilacoom, Washington.


As an adult we do that.

Uncover things we fall in love with that had always been there.

We just didn’t see it before.


It was like that with sea glass.

There was a beach I rode my bike to daily as a teenager where sea glass treasures lay waiting to be uncovered under the pebbly shores of  Puget Sound.

I was distracted by other things at the time, like boys and music and popularity games.


Life was quiet years later on that remote island in Kodiak. That is why I could see.

I first uncovered sea glass…broken bottles, shards in brown, blue, green and white….when a tiny glint of aqua blue caught my eye beneath the rubble of the shore.

barnacle boots.

In these quiet times.

When we are forced to be still, silent, and separated on isolated shores

Our eyes adjust to seeing things in ways unseen before.


The old rusty lanterns I was ready to toss into the giveaway box are gathered on the edge of the back porch to light the quiet homemade dinners my husband and I share together each evening.


My husband goes through an old junk drawer and finds scattered remnants of our 38-year marriage: the invoice from our first “real” furniture, an envelope with bits of our son’s first haircut, our daughters first letter from summer camp, my oldest son’s first Sea World pass. Collected junk. Treasures to me.


Only a few months ago I browsed through the aisle of a local flea market, scouting for treasure with two dear friends.  What is treasure to one is junk to another.


I find an old marine lantern from Italy, perhaps used in WWII.  I use it to light a candle on my writing table.


I find a frame crafted from a tin ceiling from an old store in Georgia. I use it for a sketch from my favorite watercolor teacher, Janet Rogers, gave to me our workshop in France a few years ago. To me this practice piece is priceless in this frame.


I pass by the stall of the African vendor several times before I stop. I noticed the sheen of his aqua, frosted glass beads, past the bins of wooden trinkets and carvings.


“Tell me the story of these beads,” I asked the vendor. He told me how the children in Senegal would find sea glass on the beach. The villagers would melt the glass down to form these beads of different sizes, The beads are slightly rough to the touch. I run my fingers across the different sizes of beads hung together on a string. I imagine the children searching for treasures in the sand, and their exclamations as they accumulate more and more into their hands.


Here on the other side of the world, we have been forced to choose what is clutter and what is treasure. The chaos of schedule, of consumerism, of success has been shattered in a few short weeks.  Now we may be on more of an equal playing ground with the children on the beach in Senegal, where their treasures are a good story, a great laugh, a voice in song, and family around a simple meal.


During this time of isolation, we sift through the corners of closets and hidden drawers of our minds and homes, we discern what is treasure and what is clutter. What has been need and what has been want.


So much distraction. So much clutter keeps us from seeing treasure right before our eyes.


The broken pieces that we find, like sea glass, tumbled in the waves over time, will become more transparent. Will reveal light in a new way. And we can toss the pieces not yet polished back into the sea


and make a wish.


The Little House



One of my earliest reading memories is turning the pages of this classic children’s book, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.

The story is of a little house built in the country, where the owner hopes his family will live for generations, enjoying the sun and trees and birds and flowers. The image of the little red house fixed on the center of the page of this little book is one of few images etched on my memory.

Once upon a time there was a little house way out in the country. She was a pretty little house, and she was strong and well built.

Over time the house remains but the city and progress move closer to its green surroundings until finally it is enveloped into the dust and busyness of progress itself.

This must be living in the city, thought the little house, and didn’t know if she liked it or not.  She missed the field of daisies and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight

In recent days we are discovering, like the little house, how the whirlwind of life has pushed our limits, has moved us past recognizing the dust and rush of the clock that has dilapidated our schedules and our home life.

Now it was not so quiet and peaceful at night…..everyone seemed to be busy and everyone seemed to be in a hurry

Everyone and everything moved much faster than before.

The retreat to our homes, our little houses, whether they are in the city, suburbs or countryside, is forcing us to redefine our concept of home.

In the quiet do we find peace here?

Not only the peace of our surrounding but the peace of our souls?

In the nights she watched the moon grow from a thin moon to a full moon, then back again to a thin moon; and when there was no moon, she watched the stars.

In the extra hours my husband and I declutter life, fifteen years in this house where we have raised four children, one dog and three cats. All are gone now except for one cat, our only companion as we rewind favorite movies during quiet evenings on the couch.


Weeks before this pandemic broke open I prayed for peace, for my home, for my husband who gratefully is always planning for the future. I encouraged him to count the blessings of raising four children, for them giving the gift of great educations, that they are able to stand on their own.

And as life slows, the sun rises and falls, time is measured by silences or conversations by phone or actual face to face time with those in our household.

Were we meant to return to this pace of life?  Was there nothing else that could slow down the treadmill we were on? The demands of technology: phone calls, texts to answer, emails, had us rushing by people. Places. Moments. Blue skies.

During this crisis time and space move much more slowly. Our planners are not quite as full. Not quite as pressing.

Day followed day, each one a little different than before…but the little house stayed just the same.

We return to the joys of simplicity. Completing puzzles. Revisiting a sonata we were able to play years ago.  Trying new recipes. Bringing out old recipes passed down by our mothers and grandmothers.  Long walks around the neighborhood. Conversations that happen when we walk side by side alongside a loved one rather than face to face.



As the Little House settled down on her new foundation, she smiled happily. Once again she could watch the sun and moon and stars. Once again she could watch spring and summer and fall and winter come and go. 

This is a time when we build a new foundation. For the foundation we had has been torn out from under us: our jobs, our bank accounts, our mortgages, our rent. Our home is not just four walls but a shelter where we hunker down, stock our pantries, and prepare meals at home. This is what home meant generations ago, when everything we needed was gathered and prepared within the walls of our own house. This crisis is forcing us to reexamine the definition of home.

One definition: home: noun: any place of residence or refuge

Our residence has become our refuge.

The story of the Little House brought joy to me when I was a little girl.

But the truth that the Lord God has been our dwelling place, our refuge, has been passed on for generations. It has been passed on from the time God’s created dwelt in the garden, to the time he led His people through the wilderness by a pillar of a cloud by day and fire by night, to the dwelling place God’s people built for him as a tabernacle.

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

Psalm 90:1

There has been no greater time of uncertainty for our generation than now. Our parents and grandparents faced uncertainty through two World Wars and the Great Depression. We have been a generation and are raising generations that believe we are in control of our destiny, our progress, our future.

Until now.

This crisis forces us to search for something larger than ourselves, for this pandemic is greater than anything we have experienced.

In the midst of this thing that is greater than ourselves, will we seek out the One who is greater than we can ask or imagine.


He is our dwelling place. Our refuge. He longs to for us to be His dwelling place. For Him to fill our hearts and lives so completely that we will not be overwhelmed by the uncertainty and the unknown.

Do we know what we believe during this time of uncertainty? Do we believe that there is an eternal home, a refuge?

Now, more than ever, I believe there is an eternal home. I witnessed with my own eyes the struggle of my mother to leave this world and move towards her heavenly home.

We had been keeping vigil with her at night after hospice had been called in. One night I walked into her room and felt this heaviness, this presence.

In Hebrew, the word is kabowd.Weight. The weight of glory. God’s glory.

My mother’s weak hand reached toward the window, as if she was reaching to cross over into glory. But as she saw me, she hesitated, as if she was not ready to let go, just yet.


She crossed over into glory two mornings later. I was not there with her.

I am grateful is dwelling in her eternal home now, away from this crisis that compromises those who are homebound as she was.

Before she left, she would often say, “I want to go home.”

I would say, “Mom, you are home with us.”

She would shake her head, no, smile and silently point one finger up.  “No, that home.”

I pray that home uncovers different meaning for us as we find refuge here in these days.

And I pray that we are preparing our hearts, as we have been readying our homes, to reflect upon the doorway to our heavenly home.




Italicized text from The Little Houseby Virginia Lee Burton, 1942, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

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.


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.