In Honor of Gloria Mae, by Mae Clair

Although spring officially begins in March, I’ve always considered May 1st as the true date of the season’s arrival. Perhaps it has to do with treasured memories of May Day from childhood or, perhaps, that everything is green and blooming, no longer mired in the muddy browns and bleak charcoals of a fading winter. May 1st holds a special place in my heart – – not only for the renewal it brings, but because it’s my mother’s birthday.

Me and my mom, a few years ago during a beach vacation. She loved the shore. Wow, my hair was short!

Me and my mom, several years ago during a beach vacation. She loved the shore!

She passed away last year on the first day of summer, timing that is oddly poetic to me. Spring, a season of newness and light, gave way to one of warmth and eternal promise, as if summer wanted to embrace her as well.

Had my mother lived, she would have been ninety this year. Rather than write a post to mark her passing in June, I chose today – – her birthday – – to celebrate her life.

It’s been hard without her for my siblings and me. We‘re a close family and we each struggle with the loss, but we’re blessed in knowing that our mother had a long, fulfilling life.

I was fortunate to have not only a mother/daughter relationship with my mom, but an abiding friendship as well.  From the time I was in my middle twenties, my mom and I spent practically every Saturday together – – shopping, the movies, lunch, sometimes all three in one day. We had shopping marathons, discussed movies, swapped books, purses and jewelry. I can trace my love of reading directly to my mother and father and, to this day, it feels odd to try on clothes and not have her there to give her opinion. She would often tell me I was too conservative and needed more “flash.” 😀

My mom (center) and her sisters. This is how I remember her -- always the life of the party.

My mom (center) and her sisters. This is how I remember her — always the life of the party.

Extremely young at heart, she went dancing until she was almost 80 and drove until she was 85. Eventually age and infirmity caught up with her, but she never lost her love for life. We no longer did shopping marathons but we did still go shopping. Mostly for books in those later years. We would collect our bounty, then stake out a table in Border’s café for a few hours and chat before making the way to the checkout with our purchases.

There is so much I could say in this post about who she was – – her love of glitzy clothes and fashionable rings, how she loved dancing (especially disco), or she how enjoyed going out . . . even if it was just to run to the mall for the afternoon. But what stands out most was something that struck me during the last couple years of her life.

My mother was always a socializer when she was out and about. She walked into a room and commanded it, and had the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. What amazed me — and I came to appreciate those last few years — was her natural charm. It wasn’t fabricated, never a façade. My mother had a gift to make anyone she talked to feel like they were the most important person in the world. I saw it time and time again with everyone she encountered. Why had I never noticed it before?

Another shot of me and my mom at the beach. Part of a yearly girls' trip with my sister.

Another shot of me and my mom at the beach. Part of a yearly girls’ trip with my sister.

Was it because that last year of her life was spent in a nursing home, where so many people struggled just to function? And yet my mother always had a kind word, compliment, and a friendly smile. It didn’t matter if you were a resident, medical personnel or staff. Even if she had a down day (and it’s hard not to in a nursing home), she still had compliments for anyone she encountered. People naturally gravitated to her because she made them feel special – – and in her eyes they were. That gift comes from the heart. It makes me wonder if I could do the same, facing similar circumstances. So many people told me, “Your mother is such a delight.” That tells me she touched many hearts, not just mine.

I don’t have her charisma. I am much more of a loner. As I’m the youngest of four siblings, my mom was fond of telling me “You’re my baby.” That never got old, even though I did. 🙂

So in memory of my mother, Gloria Mae, the daughter of Italian immigrants who found the love of her life in a stubborn, blond-haired, blue-eyed German, I’d much rather remember her life than her passing.

For all that you’ve taught me and all that you’re continuing to teach me – – Happy Birthday, Mom. I miss you. What a reunion we’ll have . . . some day.

Mom Xmas at Lakewood Hills

30 thoughts on “In Honor of Gloria Mae, by Mae Clair

  1. Mae, that was wonderful! I wish I’d gotten to know her — but I kinda feel like I did, thanks to this post. 🙂 My mom passed away way too young, and since we were great friends, the same way you describe you and your mom, it felt like I’d lost two people, not just one. So I know how tough that can be. This made me smile and made me a little misty. Thanks for sharing Gloria Mae with us!

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    • Hi, Donna. So sad to hear you lost your mother when she was much too young. It sounds like you had that wonderfully close friendship I had with mine. I know exactly what you mean when you said it felt like you’d lost two people, not just one. That is so true! I’m trying to be upbeat and positive today. Having such wonderful friends visit here on my blog is a blessing.

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    • Thank you L.J. for your beautiful comments. Mothers are always special in the hearts of their children. We learn so much from them. I’m still learning from mine. 🙂

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  2. Sis Mae~ This was a beautiful tribute to Mom. Crying as I pen this note. Today, on her birthday we’ll meet, all of us, and celebrate her life in a toast and in remembering her life and how wonderful she was and how truely blessed we all are as her children. She was 89 years forever young. .Love, …Sis Sandy

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    • Sis Sandy ~ What beautiful sentiment. I know this evening will be hard but it will be happy too. I look forward to that toast and those memories. 89 Years forever young is a beautiful description of Mom. Love from, Sis Mae

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    • Thank you, Debbie. I do find comfort in knowing she’s with me in spirit…even more in knowing she’s with my dad. It’s beautiful and sunny here today and everything is blooming and green. A special May Day for her 🙂

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  3. Such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. Aren’t we lucky as writers we can introduce others to our feelings and family and not leave all the emotion bottled up inside us but share them with those who will appreciate it. You are indeed fortunate to have had such a wonderful relationship with her.

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    • Thanks, Sue. As you said, I was truly blessed in my relationship with her. It’s strange though….I have confidence when I write fiction. When I have to write something personal, expressing my own feelings, I always think I fail miserably. Perhaps it’s because I do it so infrequently. I’m glad you liked my tribute.Thanks so much for dropping by today!

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  4. What a lovely tribute to your mom, Mae. She sounds like a wonderful person. I would have liked to meet her. I’m so glad you have such fond memories of her and that you treasure them. I’m sure she misses you too, and I’m sorry you will have to wait so many years before seeing her again.

    And whatever you say about not having inherited her charisma, you did inherit her kindness. That has been plain since the day I first encountered you online. 🙂 Take heart from that and know you carry her legacy.

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    • Such lovely thoughts, Laura! I really appreciate those kind words, especially the idea of a part of her shining through me. Memories really are a blessing and a treasure. Thanks for visiting while I shared those with others. It’s a pleasure to introduce my mom to my CP. 🙂

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  5. I enjoyed reading about your mom and your relationship with her, Mae. Thank you for sharing! You made me tear up, thinking about my mom and my sister – both who are still with me, but I don’t see as often as I’d like. Family is important, and the memories (and pictures) of everyone laughing are the best! She sounds like a wonderful person!

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    • That she was, Lorraine. So glad you have your mom and sister still. It sounds like you’re wonderfully close even if you don’t get to see each other as often as you’d like. Thanks for visiting with me today and sharing in my memories.

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  6. What a wonderful tribute to my Aunt Gloria, your mom! We were all very blessed to have her in our lives and we all miss her so much, as I know your whole family does. I think about her often and everytime I look at my mom I see her and Aunt Eleanor and think back on all the wonderful memories that we all had with them. I am still blessed to have my mom, my friend in my life and was in tears as I read your beautiful tribute. Happy birthday to her and always remember….”All for one and one for all”!

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    • Oh, that motto! It came up tonight at the cemetery. I know you wanted to be there. Later, we toasted Mom at dinner, and you were definitely there with us in spirit. Oh, the memories we have between us and treasure!!! Today has really been special. It really did turn into a celebration of her life. *hugs*

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  7. What a great mom, Mae. You were truly blessed– it’s obvious she loved- well, and was well loved, and had a long life full of laughs and enjoying herself. Interesting how so many of your favorite things– shopping, reading, the shore, dancing– were things you shared with your mom. So wonderful you were pals, too! She was a real cutie, lots of life & joy in her expression– I bet she was blast to be around. What a great way to give her tribute–by celebrating her birthday, and telling the world what a fantastic woman she was. Hey, and you definitely look like her! Beautiful post, and I LOVED the pics of you guys!

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    • Hi, Venice. You know, I always knew my mom and I shared a love of books and movies, but I never stopped to think about how many other favorite things we had in common. You’re so right about that! We both love(d) dancing, the shore, shopping, and jewelry! Thanks for visiting today, my friend. It’s lovely to share my mom with you!

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  8. I’m late with my response as usual, but I love your posts. I lost my mom so many years ago, I never got to have that special adult relationship with her, like you did with your mom. Here’s to our Mom’s. Mother’s day is just a week away too. Mary

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    • Oh, Mary, I’m so sorry you lost her young. My dad passed away when I was 13, but we had a really close relationship for those 13 years. Having an adult relationship with my mom was a gift I will treasure as I know not everyone is as fortunate. As you said – – here’s to our moms!!

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    • Thanks so much, Sheri. She was a real sweetheart. She was so excited to learn I’d gotten a contract with Lyrical Press, after all those years of encouraging me in my writing. I’m glad she lived long enough to see that happen!

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    • Thank you so much for visiting, Stanalei. Writing about her on her birthday really helped me in embracing what could have been a difficult day. Having my friends comment on the post was a true blessing!

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