The Dichotomy of a Life – A Tribute to My Mother

My mother was born into a privileged life, having a chauffeur, cooks, maids and nannies, with summers in Italy, beautiful homes in Long Island, NY and Florida, apartments in San Remo and Manhattan.  Yet her parents bickered often, her father was unfaithful, and life at home could be turbulent.

My father came from a privileged family as well and while their families were long time friends; they were not in favor of this union until after my father returned safety from serving in WWII.  Nevertheless, at 17 years of age, my mother ran off to marry and live in a basement of a rented apartment house in Kansas City where my father was stationed.     There she learned to cook, clean, and even convinced the local dry cleaner to teach her how to iron my father’s army shirts.  While she never received more than a high school education, she assisted my father in college by researching his term papers and helping him study for exams.  She devoured the Readers Digest especially the Word Power section to build her vocabulary.  Year later my parents hosted a radio talk show that presented current events and their opposing views.  Raising children, caring for a home and husband in the 50’s did not leave much time to keep up with current events.   However, after getting us up and off to school, my mother would go to the library and read various newspapers so she could present her side.  When my father began making his way up the “corporate ladder”, he traveled extensively both here and abroad.  With each increase in position, came the entertainment of clients which in those days entailed 5 course dinners set with china, silver and crystal.  My mother did not have the benefit of her parent’s money and therefore there were no cooks, or maids; only herself with three children, a dog, a large home.  Yet she pulled those dinners off with great aplomb.  Frankly, some holiday family dinners have reduced me into a puddle of sweat and discomposure.

Marriage is not easy and my parent’s marriage was no different.  My father loved my mother and wanted her to accompany him on all his travels.  With three children, each spaced 5 years apart, she always seemed to have a child in diapers making travel next to impossible.  My father had several affairs and yet she remained married to my father, loving him despite his actions.  She did however; manage to get her point across when on one trip my father found that all his boxer shorts had been sewn closed!

She lived in an age when women stayed home to raise their children, yet God had gifted her with a good business mind.  What a dichotomy!  When my parents grew tired of my fathers extensive traveling, it was my mother who researched, developed and built a successful diaper service in Italy.

My father died leaving my 42 year old mother with one grown child and two teenagers in a foreign country.  Although my mother was devastated and alone, she sought solace in her children, faith and her humor.  And of course she continued to run Gloria’s American Diaper Service in Italy.

When she returned to America she began a new life as a single woman.  Much older men were smitten with the young, vivacious red head that exuded old world charm and class and yet had the humor and hardiness of an equestrian rider.  She began dating, fell in love, but never remarried.   The man she fell in love with reconciled with his wife after 9 years of separation.  Although he wanted to continue to “see” her – my mother declined.  Having been the wife of a cheating husband, she did not want to be the “other woman”.  Life’s dichotomy continued.

My mother whole life was a dichotomy.  She had only a high school education but had one of the smartest, keenest business minds I have ever met.  She was an elegant lady who planted her own flowers, cleaned, painted & wallpapered her own home.   She was well spoken, well informed, well-traveled.  Yet she loved to read the tabloids!  She had slender hands with long self-manicured nails and dressed as if she came from the pages of Vogue Magazine.  Yet even when she lived in a condo in Boca Raton, she would haul her furniture (I am talking about bureaus, and dining room tables and such) up to the roof of the building to refinish her furniture.  She would get up early in the morning and go down to the paint store where professional painters were picking up their orders.  They would consult with each other over the best practices in various jobs.  The professionals believed that she was one of them and the paint store owners never let on she was anyone different.  My mother was as comfortable with the average workman as she was with men of influence and stature.  She was a woman of obvious means yet when she volunteered at the hospital she told them to place her where she was needed.  So here was my mother, a tall imposing woman with perfectly coifed hair, long manicured red nails in her pink, candy stripe uniform with paper and pencil in hand taking lunch orders at the hospital snack shop!  And she was good at it!

She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 56 and for ten years she wrestled with this disease.  When the doctors removed her breast, plastic surgeons said the reconstruction was impossible because too much tissue had been removed.  She continued to search for a way to reconstruct her breast until she found a physician that would perform the reconstruction pending she cease smoking.  A 41 year habit ended overnight.  What was impossible became possible.  When her breast cancer metastasized to her brain, back, and hips, she took the Tamoxifen; started herself on a macrobiotic diet and earned herself ten more years of life.    When the cancer resurged again, chemotherapy and all known therapies of the time were exhausted; my mom, tired of the many battles knew it was time to concede the war and go home to the Lord. She drew us together and told us she was ready.   Unbeknown to us, all the years she had been fighting the cancer; she had gotten her affairs in order.

It was probably then that I stopped praying for a miracle to save my mom’s life and began praying for God to take her home.  The day my mother died, I found myself torn between losing my mother, my mentor, my friend, versus my relief that her pain and suffering were over and her everlasting life had begun.

Life is a dichotomy.    From the moment we are born we are dying.  As we grow up, grow wiser, we grow older, we grow frailer.  Childbirth is painful, yet beautiful; marriage is a union of kismet souls yet a constant work to happily sustain two separate minds into one joined life.

My mother’s life is an example of the dichotomy of living.  And although I miss her, her footprints has been left not only on my heart, but in my life and those she encountered.    When I find myself questioning life’s turn of events, I think back to how my mother would have handled it and it helps to have her life’s blueprint before me.  My mother led her life with faith in God, with grace, with love, with spirit and with humor!

Oh, my mom wasn’t perfect and she could be “like a dog with a bone” if she felt we needed to be doing something she thought was important,  But her example of living blazed a trail worth following.  I am ever so grateful at how she led by example.

May I, like my mother, find life not so much a challenge but an adventure in which my children will remember and use to help them through the dichotomy of life.

It’s been 29 years since I have celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom, and I would love to be able to call my mom, be with her and share in the laughter, the love, the triumphs and the failures that life brings to us all.    If you are blessed with a mother or someone you live like a mother, take a moment to tell her what she means to you.

Mom, Happy Mother’s Day. 

And Happy Mother’s Day to all my faithful readers.  Wishing you a day filled with all those you hold dear.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you – Philippians 1:3


Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at

Blessings for Health & Wellness.



Thank you for reading my post.  If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it.  Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!

I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts.  To order a copy or learn more go to my website at

Blessings for Health & Wellness.


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