Tag Archives: Family

A Life Well Lived: Bernard Silver

Two weeks ago today my uncle, whom I called Dad and viewed as a grandfather, passed away. With the flurry of events that have taken place since then, I have not yet had the chance to express myself in a way that I felt was right and honorable.

This post is my attempt to recognize the man who meant so much to me and my family.

Bernard Silver (August 10, 1923-January 11, 2017)

Son of Louis and Jeannie Silver, Bernard came to the world on the same day as the funeral for former President Warren G. Harding. Louis had to travel far and wide across Brooklyn, New York to find the necessary supplies for Bernard’s home delivery as the majority of businesses were closed for the national day of mourning declared by newly appointed President Calvin Coolidge.

Later, the family grew again when Bernard’s sister Vera was born. A few years later, the Silvers moved to Washington, DCjust in time for the Great Depression.

Bernard great up knowing want and learned very early to be frugal, yet still found ways to enjoy life. The week was often spent doing chores to earn enough money to splurge on the weekends on penny candy and a nickel for a movie. Times were not easy, but Bernard always spoke how he and his family had it pretty well-off in comparison to other families.

On September 1, 1939 the Second World War began. Bernard was just 16 years old.

Like most young men, Bernard had a great desire to serve his country. Directly after graduating high school in 1943, he enlisted and was placed in the United States Army Air Corps. After completing his training, Bernard became a Staff Sergeant of the 328th Squadron in the 93rd Bombardment Group (H) A.A.F. Serving as a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator, Bernard and his nine other crew members completed 35 bombing missions over  Belgium and Germany. Several of Bernard’s favorite plane, the P-51 Mustang, accompanied them on every mission and as he would often say, “They kept us alive.”

Bernard was honorably discharged  on September 29, 1945 and returned to the life of a civilian. Several years later, Bernard began to work for a food company based in Washington, DC named Sol Salins.

In the mid 1970s, Bernard met and fell in love with Bonnie da Silva, a Brazilian immigrant to the United States. They were married in 1978 and Bernard treated Bonnie’s sons, Joseph, Edward, and Robert as his own. Bernard and Bonnie never had children together.

The newly formed family moved to and lived in Olney, Maryland. In 1986, they welcomed Bonnie’s younger sister, Vania, into their home.

Sadly, Bernard and Bonnie divorced in the 90’s and Bonnie would return to Brazil permanently. Bernard would eventually move in Vania, her husband Luis, and two daughters, Juliana and Vanessa. They affectionately called him “Dad,” and for the girls, Bernard was like a grandfather figure.

In 2013, Bernard moved to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC, only a couple of blocks from where he had grown up. There, he received all the care he deserved as a veteran of the United States, and even had the opportunity to meet President Barak Obama and his family.

On January 9th, Bernard fell and was admitted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he succumbed to an infection that affected his heart, lungs, and kidneys. He died peacefully in the morning of Wednesday the 11th, with his caring sister-in-law Vania by his side.

Bernard is survived by his three nephews, Bonnie’s sons, his sister-in-law Vania and her family.

Bernard’s was a full life, one that has seen many changes in society, technology, and government. Those who knew Dad loved him and will miss his kind spirit and wonderful stories.

His was a life well-lived. Rest now in deserved peace.

Please remember to always tell those you care for how much you love them. And whenever you see a service member, especially a veteran from WWII, be sure to thank them for their service.

This post will be later updated with photos of Bernard throughout the years of his life. Thank you for reading.

-Wandering Minstrelette




Tomorrow Became Yesterday

It’s amazing how fast time flies sometimes. Before I knew it, my last full day on Colorado had come. Thankfully, it was filled with warm memories. 

Saturday morning I attended church at Twin Peaks SDA. I always make a point of attending church on Sabbath mornings, but when I travel I make it even more so because I think that there is a great cross blessings for me as a visitor and for the church that I visit. Not to say that I am overly special, but I have always found great joy in visiting different churches. 

Not only was the congregation warm and inviting (I must have been invited to stay for potluck four or five times), but inclusiveness I felt was really quite unique. It was Communion Sabbath, in which we partake of the ceremony of Holy Communion. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, these Sabbaths have a homily followed by the Ordinance of Humility (foot washing ceremony) after which we partake of the communion bread and blessed juice (we don’t use wine). These Sabbaths can be very lonely for visitors because everyone knows each other and will want to perform these ceremonies together. I’ve been at churches when I stood for quite a while before someone realized I needed a partner for the foot washing. But not Twin Peaks – a lady came straight up to me and asked to be my partner and even welcomed me to sit with her or the rest of the service. Her kindness made all the difference. 

I should also mention that the small sanctuary was beautiful, with large, square window behind the pulpit that allows the congregation to gaze upon the majestic Rockies. I could stare at that view for forever and never get tired of it. 

After church I had the chance I spend some quality time with my cousin’s wife. She had been busy all week, so we didn’t have much of a chance to interact before. Now we had the whole afternoon just us and her son. She is such an amazing and intelligent person, and such a great parent – I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time together!

I am so glad that I made this trip to spend time with family. Not only did I get to know them better, but I also learned a lot about myself. I learned that I want a husband that will be the kind of man and father my cousin is to his wife and son. I learned that I want to be the kind of wife and mother that his wife is: supportive, caring, honest, tactful, and strong. 

 I have great family. 🙂

In the late afternoon I had one last chance to enjoy the mountains by briefly walking on the South Mesa trail to see the firey red sumac against the Flatirons. It’s amazing how gorgeous nature can be. 


The final hurrah of the day was the battería performance to kick off the Adventure Film Festival. I’ll have to post a video and pictures later, it was so great! Everyone attending the festival crowded in to listen and some even watched as my cousin’s wife and I danced samba off to the side. What a perfect way to complete my time with family. 

I was brought back to Denver that evening and, for whatever reason, promptly became sick. So this morning was not a lot of fun, but thankfully everything toned down by the time mom and I had to get in the plane. 

Now I’m back home and have to be ready for work in the morning. It’s always a bit funny getting back into the regular routine of things. But you know, it just makes me look forward to the next time I get to explore this beautiful world we call earth. 

I’ll be sure to post my favorite shots from this trip later this week. Until then, happy traveling!

-Wandering Minstrelette


This weekend I had the great pleasure of visiting family members in Petrópolis, about a two hour bus ride from  Niterói. The landscape is so beautiful there, with mountains and greenery… But, it is also much, much colder.


Yes, ladies and gentleman, Brazil does indeed get cold.

I ended up getting sick due to the climate change (warm and balmy  to cold at a high altitude) and was a bit distraught that there wasn’t any tea in my uncle’s house. In my home back in the States, we have a cabinet in the kitchen that is basically dedicated to tea (an idea we got from friends), so the thought of not having tea was a bit astonishing. I guess it shouldn’t have been… Brazil is not very big on tea, it’s always been more of a coffee country. But a solution was not far off! We ended up pulling leaves off their lemon tree, washing them and boiling them and had some of the most amazing tea ever. From leaves of a tree in the backyard! Know anywhere else you can do that? I don’t.


Sabbath morning was spent at the church at Instituto Petropolitano Adventisa de Ensino (IPAE), the school that my mother and most of the rest of Igreja do IPAE 2my aunts and uncles went to school once upon a time. I was honored to have the chance to play a couple of special numbers for the service. The pianist was remarkable – we didn’t have any rehearsal ahead of time but we stuck together basically the entire time. Its always great to play with people with such a level of musicianship.Playing at IPAE


Saturday evening was spent in Teresópolis, home of the Brazilian Seleção (national soccer team). No, we didn’t get to see any of the team, as cool as that would have been. By the way, for those who have been following – keep Neymar Jr. in your thoughts and prayers. Its hard being the star with such a high profile at such a young age and then be injured, almost considered paralyzed, and then be forced to back down from one’s biggest dream. He’s young and thankfully his injury isn’t as serious as first thought, but he will be out the rest of the Cup. Whether you’re routing for Brazil or not, we can all agree that no one deserves to be hurt in something like this.

Anyways, we went to Teresópolis for a “prayer vigil,” or at least that what I think it was called. A large Adventist event that had famous Adventist Brazilian artists performing and well-known pastors preaching held in an old Olympic indoor sports stadium. Sadly, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it because I was starting to feel rather ill…

SDA Stadium Vigil

In the Crowd

Instead of going home, though, you know where we went? A pizza rodízio. There really isn’t a proper translation for this word… But essentially, its when you sit at you table and waiters come around offering various food items you can choose from. Its like an all-you-can-eat buffet where the food comes to you. It’s very common for Brazilian churrascarias (steakhouses/barbecues), but I had never heard of one for pizza. There more kinds of pizza than you could imagine, including chocolate! It was definitely an interesting experience.

This morning was supposed to be spent seeing some of the tourist sites of Petrópolis, as this was where the last emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, lived before the country became independent as well as the home of Alberto Santos-Dumont, who is credited in Brazil as the father of aviation (read about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Santos-Dumont). However, traffic was completely backed up due to the annual Bauernfest, where Brazilians celebrate all things German. Suddenly, my fascination with the German language makes sense – it seems to be a natural part of being Brazilian! After a quick look around the festival, filled of course with beer, sausage, and traditional clothing, we went to eat one last lunch together before I had to return to Niterói.


Marching Band at Bauernfest

Crystal Palace

German "Houses"

I’m thankful for the time I was able to spend with my family. Its not often that I get to see them; its kind of hard when you live thousands of miles away. The last time I saw my uncle was in 2003. Hopefully it won’t be such a long period of time before we see each other again.

Now I’m back in Niterói and am ready to take on this last week of my internship! Wow… Has it really gone by that fast?

-Wandering Minstrelette