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The day mama stopped crying

cry at the drop of a hat. I have these big eyes that can’t hide a doggone thing. My heart is always found there along with showing the world if I am tired, angry, or sick. Mama said I could never conceal my feelings and she was right about that — I can’t.

Mother could hide all her emotions, and very seldom did I see tears. I never saw her fall apart except when her daddy died suddenly in 1965. She was so overcome with emotion, she fainted.  There were a few other times she almost fell, but she would quickly regain her resolve and stand tall.

When my brother and father passed away within 18 months of each other, I surely thought mama would go into deep despair, but I never saw her break into tears. In the dark corners of her room while alone, I am sure she wept, but her tears were never shared.

I asked her one day why she never cried and, finally, she told me. 

Mom and dad lived in LaGrange from 1962 to 1972. Mom forged great friendships while she was there and one of the women she adored was Gloria, who was affectionately known as “Glo.” The name suited her because she usually was glowing and happy.

Gloria bore three children by 1953 — two boys and one girl.

I don’t know when the boys started showing signs of an illness, but both would die from Muscular Dystrophy before they reached their mid-20s. The daughter would also die after a seven-year battle with breast cancer at age 46.   

For the ten years mom knew Gloria well, she said she never heard Glo complain. Not one time did she feel sorry for herself and give into self-pity. Glo cared for her children until the caring was no longer needed.

Gloria died 12 days after her daughter in 1998. Her family was gone.

She laid her husband and three children to rest before she laid herself down to find peace in the eternal arms of God.

For the remainder of my mother’s life, when I wept, mom would say, “When I feel as if I am about to cry, or fall, I think of Glo and am grateful for all that I have. I am thankful I was able to enjoy my son for 56 years. I am appreciative of his children, his grandchildren, my husband, you and your family. When we get down, we must rise and be thankful. My life has been easy when compared to so many, and I feel blessed.”

I don’t know if it was healthy for mama to stop crying, but the greatest generation never seemed to succumb to self-pity very much. The Great Depression, World War II and hard work seemed to not allow room for such emotion. Many of them learned to hide the heartaches, fears and tragedies early in life, and I respected them for it. It was their way. They never felt the world owed them anything, and they never gave up on the world. 

Gloria never gave up until she was no longer needed. She so inspired my mother, her light shined through my mother’s life until mom died. She gave mama courage by the example of her own. She taught us all that gratitude for even the small victories in life is the prescription needed to live so that we may continue to care for those we love. A person’s strength carries forward. Gloria gave strength to mama, and mama sent it to me. So even if my eyes declare I am worn or sad, look a bit deeper because somewhere in there will be the glow of light my mama and her friend gifted me to carry on.