my mother is 97 today!

on may 11th 1923 in bagar, condon, ilocos sur, philippines, the world was blessed with ursula ismael. after marriage to my father rudy, she was known as soling gramaje to her friends. to me, mom.

when she was a little girl, she could not imagine her life at 97 years of age.

how could she have predicted the WWII japanese occupation in the northern philippines and it’s cultural and personal consequences? could she foresee marrying a U.S. seaman 13 years her senior, leave her family and friends and live on military bases? how could she have known how to navigate new cultures in hawaii and california?

there is no way to know that she would spend most of her years on earth in seattle, washington and learn to live with the showers, drizzle and mist that keeps this wonderful city be so emerald.

how could she have known the heartbreak that comes from burying two of her children? how could she have known that she would attend the funerals of the vast majority of her seattle friends as well as her husband of 62 years? how could she have guessed the joy from all of the celebrations of life: marriages, an ordination, anniversaries, the birth of two wonderful granddaughters– and the countless birthdays? how could she have known the fruits of the years of sacrifice and the mystery of God’s love through it all?

how could she foresee losing her memory of all these things?

indeed, life is journey. your journey mom is unique. we count these 97 years as a blessing from God and give thanks for you! we will say “happy birthday” more fully when this coronavirus pandemic lock down is over

for now, we pray for your well being and this current chapter of life with all of its twists and turns. i pray that God helps me to see you in this new way and the gifts that it brings me in my life as your son. i pray for your grace, peace of mind and new joys, simple joys in your life

happy birthday mom!


  1. lannyjlarson says:

    Blessings on your birthday for a life so well-lived and for so long. May there be many more celebrations ahead.


  2. Steve Niskanen says:

    Beautiful! Happy birthday, Mrs. Gramaje!


  3. Happy birthday to your mom!! What a lovely tribute.


  4. Joey says:

    Happy birthday to your mom cuz! In her own words, may she live another fifteen more years. God bless her.


  5. Maria Ortiz says:

    Beautiful story, beautiful life, happy birthday to your mom, she is so bless to have you on her side , God bless her and grant you love to continue cherishing her life.


    1. frarthurcmf says:

      maria, thanks for your kind words. God bless you always!


  6. Perpetua Saldevar Fausto says:

    Happy birthday Lola Soling we miss you a lot We always love you God Bless


    1. frarthurcmf says:

      God bless you too!


  7. Judy henning says:

    That is such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman- she has gorgeous skin and doesn’t look a day over 70! Your mom is so blessed to have your help during her golden years. And your dad would take comfort in knowing his wife was cared for by her loving son. Don’t think for a second that she doesn’t know you- even if she forgets your name she will know the FEELING she has when you are there and will know without a doubt that you are family and that you love her. I’m saying prayers for your mom on this special day and prayers that God gives you the strength and patience to continue providing such loving care to your mom.


    1. frarthurcmf says:

      these are words of wisdom and inspiration for me! grace flows through you

      you should think of being a priest! (80% of current priest couldn’t write such a message)


  8. Joyce Gramaje says:

    Happy happy birthday my dear Lola Ursula.
    I’m praying that God will bless you with good health and more happy birthdays. ❤️ GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS PO


    1. frarthurcmf says:

      and grace upon you joyce!


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