Love Letter to My Awesome Mother

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Three weeks before she died…


“We remember Gloria as the “Holiday Lady.”  From Easter Egg trees to Christmas Trees to Halloween ghosts and fireworks.  She loved life with the enthusiasm of a child…”  from the memory prayer for my mother.

One Halloween, Mother’s Casper The Ghost was smashed by a bunch of callow youth.  Undeterred, she put it back up with a note that said “Please don’t hurt me!  I am a friendly ghost.”  No one ever touched Casper again.

“We remember Gloria’s sense of humor and fun, Lord, and we give you thanks.”

Every spring our neighbor put huge effort into growing daffodils that never thrived.  My mother got up at 4:00 a.m. one Easter Sunday, and planted his yard with plastic daffodils.  We visited Chicago when my Uncle Wayne and Aunt “Mousie” were out of town.  My mother got the key to their house and painted a naked lady sitting in their bathtub.  One year, she sent my first boyfriend a pair of blow up legs with net stockings on them — to St. Paul’s School no less.  Sometimes, she went too far.

“She was like looking at the sunshine to them, the bright center of the family, reminding them to always forgive and get on with life.   She was the healer of wounds in family relationships and the builder of bridges…”

Her sister Gail succeeded in committing suicide after several attempts.  Her brother Fred forever blamed Gail’s husband.  They no longer spoke or saw one another.  Many years later, Mother persuaded Freddie to board his inboard Chris Craft and drive across Lake Geneva, where Gail’s husband Clayton was waiting on his dock.  They hugged. And hugged again.  Freddie died a week later.

“And yet we give thanks that Gloria was a very human person, full of the devil:  feminine and outrageous.”

No  man’s lap was safe when my mother was around.  She often did headstands at parties “to prove she wasn’t drunk.”   She asked my friends to cross state lines to bring her fireworks, and she set them off in her front yard on July 4th, while my father stood on the porch in disgust.   One New Year’s she kicked down the chandelier above our dining room table, then stood in horror as the brilliant crystal tumbled down around her.  At country club functions she convinced the lifeguard to do a “Paul Revere dive” with her.  Once, when the snooty people at the next table tsk-tsked her, my father got up and jumped in the pool with his clothes on, shoes and all.  She believed rules were made so she could break them.  And break them she did.

“As we begin our time of prayer, it is appropriate to think about the definition of the word “Gloria”…[which] means “praise, honor and thanksgiving…something commendable, marked by beauty, a spot of light.”

Mother died on November 6, 1990.  On November 5th she had fallen while walking her dog, cracking her head and maiming her brain.  At 6 a.m. November 6th, Greenwich Hospital called my father and said he could come and hold her hand while they turned off life support.  He sat next to the love of his life as her strong heart beat on.  When she died, he slipped off her wedding rings and went home.   He made a good show of it, but we all knew he was waiting to join her.  And three years later, almost to the day, he did.

Happy Mother’s Day my heart, my soul.  Happy Mother’s Day, my mom, my best pal.  Happy Mother’s Day my beauty, my spot of light