‘Coffee and Cedar: Finding Strength from Memories’ Review

With Father’s Day upon us, it’s the perfect time and opportunity to reflect on the men in our lives who have profoundly affected the individuals we are today — fathers, sons, brothers and, last but not least, grandfathers. For one young man, his grandfather played a pivotal role in modeling him into the person he is today. “Coffee and Cedar: Finding Strength from Memories by D.H. Cermeño takes the reader on an illustrated journey through the meaningful relationship between that young man, David, and his grandfather, Atun.

The Powerful Aroma of Coffee and Cedar

Memories come in all forms, shapes and sizes. For some, a photo can trigger a heartfelt memory of a day spent on the beach with family and friends celebrating the Fourth of July. For others, a song heard during a television commercial can transport a person back to dancing cheek to cheek with a first love at the high school prom. But sometimes, there is nothing stronger to recall a fond memory than a scent associated with a loved one. A memory taken out of the bank and used in times of need to assist in navigating over life’s hurdles.

“Coffee and Cedar” is a story depicting the relationship between the author and the grandfather who raised him. David lost his parents at a young age, and Atun filled the heart-wrenching gap as best he could. For anyone outside looking in, Atun raised David as if he was his own son. His grandfather made sure David attended school, prayed in church and nursed him back to health if the need arose.

Before he retired, Atun worked as a chef. Believe it or not, the favorite part of his day wasn’t the meals he cooked but indulging in a cup of freshly brewed coffee. The scent of the coffee triggered memories for Atun of his childhood and the strong bond he had with his father. It was back in the day when technology did not impact day-to-day life and father and son were able to have meaningful conversations.

Similarly, David remembered the aroma of his grandfather’s coffee, but added to his memory bank for future reflection was the strong scent of cedar. As a boy, David’s favorite place to hide during hide-and-seek was Atun’s closet, which was filled with blocks of cedar to ward off pesky moths.

Motivational Empowerment

Besides the sharing of how powerfully scented memories can uplift spirits, “Coffee and Cedar” delves into motivational empowerment. Throughout the book, there are multiple instances when David needs encouragement as naysayers get the best of him. ‘El sol no se tapa con un dedo,” which translates to, “You cannot cover the sun with a single finger.” The saying boils down to the fact that no one can take away any talent within a person – a talent is like the sun, larger than a mere finger.

This Atunism is the empowering statement running throughout “Coffee and Cedar.” It demonstrates the importance and value of believing in yourself despite any adversity you might face.

“Nurture your talents. When you have a gift that no one can take away, don’t let anyone or anything negative make your doubt your abilities,” said the author’s grandfather nightly at bedtime. This empowering statement was a philosophy passed down from generation to generation.

Award-winning Story

Despite its brevity, the book packs a strong punch. The messages woven throughout “Coffee and Cedar” are meaningful and impactful for children and adults alike. It is easy to see why “Coffee and Cedar” is an award-winning story. To date, the book has won the following:

At Chapters Health System, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients, young and old alike, and their families are able to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call our helpful Chapters Health team at 1.866.204.8611 or send an email to info@chaptershealth.org

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Corporate Communications for Chapters Health System, manages all content and communications for the not-for-profit organization.

Age-Appropriate Books to Help Children Understand Death and Grief

There are many books that explain death and grief in terms that are age appropriate for children. The following books are just a few that can be useful resources when discussing these topics with kids, primarily for those under the age of 10:

The Goodbye Book (child 3+)

I’ll Always Love You (child 3+)

The Memory Box (child 4+)

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You (child 4+)

Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs (child 5+)

Pax (children 8-12)

The Thing about Jellyfish (children 9-14)


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