A vet’s remembrance…

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

The first time I heard the words to this powerful poem, my father-in-law, John Van Amburgh, was quietly quoting them from memory. He shared with me how he first heard the poem while serving overseas in the Army during WWII. The poem, written by Canadian physician, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. John McCrae in 1915, describes the haunting loss of a friend and fellow soldier who died in the Second Battle of Ypres during WWI, the war to end all wars. Dr. McCrae’s poem is one of the most quoted from the first world war, and its reference to the red poppies growing over the countless graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the Remembrance Poppy becoming a recognized memorial symbol for all soldiers lost in conflict. Poppies were considered the battlefield flower because they were the first to grow back after war destroyed the landscape.

So on this 11th hour of this 11th day of the 11th month of this year, I pause to gratefully salute Poppa Van and all who bravely gave time, talent, and service to our country. With profound gratitude we honor those living among us who served and those who currently serve, as well as their families and loved ones who courageously “crack on” during the long absences of their loved ones in service. We all know someone…so…Who will you take a moment to reach out to in gratefulness for their service? 🙂 

Sister, Sister!

It’s no secret; I absolutely adore my sister. No, we don’t always agree and we often both try to boss the other (even though I am the oldest and wisest, don’t you know). We definitely have a mutual admiration and deep respect for one another. We genuinely care for and love each other. We are forever the two Folsom girls. And thanks to our formidable parental upbringing, we appreciate the fact we have each other as we age. As I speak with others, sadly, this is not considered the norm. I’ve been told on many occasions we’re quite unique; “freaks of sibling nature.” Hmmm…

I’ve spent the greater part of the past month with my sister. She and her wife recently purchased a stunning home. “Daisy” is a cheerful sunny abode in the trees of a quiet, quintessential New England town tucked into a beautifully peaceful neighborhood. While they both commute a little further for work, the idea of retreating back to Daisy on those select days makes the miles roll by in anticipation of the calm to come at home inside their Daisy.

As expected, and most especially during big life events, my sis and I share everything. This recent moving venture was no exception. With my toolbelt packed and a credit card I wasn’t afraid to swipe, I flew north to tackle all duties as assigned. From borrowed t-shirts when we couldn’t find something clean to wear to the sharing of a sibling COVID outbreak during the move, nothing was off limits (and thanks to science and due diligence, all are recovering well!). Uniquely throughout our lifetime together, whether it’s marriages, births, deaths, surgeries, cancer, aging woes, life decisions, moving homes, climbing mountains, or celebrating milestones, we show up for each other and participate in the experience side-by-side. This move was no exception. One of us can call and say “please come now,” and the other does. When one is down, the other picks up and runs.

Most gratefully, our close bond has proved beneficial when working together on behalf of our parents, especially in the past decade. While daddy and his humor are still with us, his former guiding compass now manifests in the gentle reminders my sis and I share with him on his journey. Dad was an only child and while he and mom raised us to respect the other, he gently reminded us we had each other when they were no longer with us. He also noted that whether we want to or not, “we all quote our moms and dads.” And, fun fact, daddy never misses the opportunity to remind us of this. Most importantly, he is very aware of our “team” approach now to his daily care and well-being. Little escapes the notice of “his girls.” Roles have reversed; together we are his advocates and softest landing no matter the situation. When he sees both of us approach him, or anyone on his “team,” he warns everyone to “brace for impact.” And sure enough, we never miss an opportunity to remind him we are this force of nature because of him. 😊

So today, I’m beyond grateful for my sis! I’m filled with gratitude for the life experiences and adventures we share, the sorrows we half, and the JOYs we double on this life journey. Whether you have sibling or not, I hope you to reach out to a person you consider a brother-from-another-mother or a sister-from-another-mister. Share a story, a laugh, or a walk down memory lane along with your gratefulness for their important role in your life. May you be blessed and be a blessing as you care for yourself and others. 😊

Gracious Saints…

All Saints’ Day…All Souls’ Day…All Hallows’ Day…Sabbath Soul…Dia de Muertos. From my perspective, this particular day provokes an emotional reaction. The first Sunday in November is marked as a day of special remembrance for those who have gone before in our worship service. This remembrance is sprinkled with responsive readings, special hymns, lit candles, the presentation of a white rose to a surviving family member, and clergy reading aloud the names of those saints from the congregation who gone beyond in the past year. As my Granny B. often observed, All Saints is the time “to open and honor the ‘thin space’ where all the saints meet.”

My parents, around 1991.  My mom NEVER liked having her picture taken; it was a big deal to catch her unaware in her beautiful clothes, jewelry, coiffed hair, and spotless makeup. When she was next to dad though, he would make her laugh and coax her gently into relaxing so the snapshot was natural. She passed in 2016 and I miss her every single day, but especially on certain remembrances like today.

Ironically, I find myself deeply nostalgic and profoundly grateful every year on this solemn day. Grateful for all who came before me, whose shoulders I continue to stand upon. Grateful for the treasured stories, the powerful memories, and the lasting legacies of these saints. Grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the transformational stages of my own life journey. Grateful for each new day and the chance to clear away the broken parts while exploring new paths to grow in grace and hope. 

So today, take a moment to reflect on the saints in your life.  Who are you particularly grateful for and why?

A longtime friend sent me this poem early this morning; she was thinking of my mom and me:

In the ­struggles we choose for ourselves,
in the ways we move forward in our lives
and bring our world forward with us,

It is right to remember the names of those
who gave us strength in this choice of living.
It is right to name the power of hard lives well-lived.

We share a history with those lives.
We belong to the same motion.

They too were strengthened by what had gone before.
They too were drawn on by the vision of what might come to be.

Those who lived before us,
who ­struggled for justice and suffered injustice before us,
have not melted into the dust,
and have not disappeared.

They are with us still.
The lives they lived hold us steady.

Their words remind us and call us back to ourselves.
Their courage and love evoke our own.

We, the living, carry them with us:
we are their voices, their hands and their hearts.

We take them with us,
and with them choose the deeper path of living.

— Kathleen McTigue, “They Are with Us Still”

Here’s hoping we never lose sight of the gifts gratefully given to us by those who come and go before us…for when one is missing, the whole is somehow less. “For all the saints who from their labors rest…” May you be blessed and be a blessing as you care for yourself and others, my friends.

Moving through JOY

I opened my inbox to find this message: “As one who reminds us to experience JOY and to enJOY each day, here’s a poem for you…”

I sometimes forget that I was created for Joy.

My mind is too busy.

My Heart is too heavy for me to remember

I have been called to dance the

Sacred dance of life.

I was created to smile

To Love

To be lifted up

And to lift others up.

O’ Sacred One

Untangle my feet

from all that ensnares.

Free my soul.

That we might


and that our dancing might be contagious.    ~Hafiz~

Special thanks to the Reading Goddess, R, for reaching out to share this reminder, for sensing my heart, and for singing JOY back to me through poetry. May this gentle reminder spark JOY as you untangle your feet to inspire gratefulness around you today. Be blessed and be a blessing, friends. 🙂  


I reach up to take down my favorite pair of boots this morning. They are a pair of blue Pikolinos my St. M purchased for me four years ago in our favorite shoe store outside Mt. Airy. We always stop and shop in this family-owned establishment on our way up the mountain to the Blue Ridge Parkway; excellent quality and great value for exceptional wares. M buys running shoes and I buy everything else. 🙂 This particular style of ankle boot has a slight heel and are well-formed for my achy, aging feet. I walk securely and with a slight “swag” when wearing them because I feel their steadfast power on my unsure feet…all sass and class rolled into a cute if practical boot. I notice, though, the heel needs attention on one. It’s a reboot, so off I go to town to have our local repair shop help them last another season.

Metaphorically speaking and in an effort to reboot and jump start November in the focused season of thanks and giving, these next few blogs will focus on gratefulness. Personally, gratefulness is a practiced mindset in my world, a feeling of appreciation for a kindness or a welcome experience of gratitude and thankfulness. Authentic gratefulness brings pleasure and contentment on a level all of us could benefit from in daily life. The word itself comes from the Latin derivative, gratus, “showing grace, blessing, and JOY…” Just like daily physical exercise, cultivating creative and mindful ways to practice daily gratitude is sometimes a challenge in an effort to recharge and reboot mind, body, and soul. Finding gentle ways to nurture it are paramount to daily practice.

Day One:   What is ONE thing today you are grateful for in this moment?

Me?  REBOOT.  Waking up to a beautifully blue, crystal crisp fall morn following the torrential rains and winds from the storms of last night, the air is quiet and washed clean. The woods have regenerated to start a new day, beginning with more leaves fluttering gracefully to the ground as I rake. I run to town to repair the boot; all is well once again. My personal battery is recharged today and the multitude of worries from yesterday are more distant because of restful sleep, cooler temperatures, and calmness in my grateful thoughts. The blank page in the journal of today is clean and ready to unfold a fresh story. What will the story be today?

More patience, forgiveness, kindness, understanding, and generosity are the focus for these remaining weeks of 2022. Working to right wrongs, learning from mistakes, listening more, talking less, seeking truth, and remembering to embrace the bounty…these are the touch points. Hope is not lost. Grace and mercies are abundant. “I am grateful for what I am and have…my Thanksgiving is perpetual.” (Henry David Thoreau) So, go ahead; throw caution to the day…what’s your ONE grateful thing in this moment?