There is an undeniable bond between a mother and her son. And, even though my mom is no longer with us, our bond is a rare kinship that delighted so many and inspired countless others. For a Michigan farm girl (she was the state’s Junior Sugar Beet Queen of 1955), Gloria turned out to be one cool, hip mom. She lived her life as an “example out loud.” For our birthdays, she would often give us kids gifts of experiences rather than material presents. She loved a party, and it was she who taught me how to celebrate life and myself. When she moved to South Florida to “hang out” with me, her oldest boy, we ended up dancing professionally as a mother-son duo. It was always her dream. How many moms have sons who are pro ballroom dancers? We were a great team and championed each other in all aspects of our lives. Ours was a relationship of support, respect and trust. Gloria Joy, I miss you with all of my heart. My “dance card” has been forever altered.
Scott Lappin Boca Raton, FL
“She was my source of total and unconditional love,” Scott says of his mother, who passed away on July 30, 2008, from complications due to mesothelioma. She was 71.
“When I was 14 and in an anxious state about my gay feelings, she expressed to me that ‘you are my son, and I will always love you no matter what,’” says Scott. And, through all the years, she always did. “She was proud that I had never wavered from my passion of ballroom dance.”
Gloria’s supportive nature translated when Scott became a dance coach himself. “She taught me the ability to profoundly improve and expand my students’ attitudes and ultimately their lives,” he says. That’s not all she’s passed down to Scott. “My mom knew how to dress. She always looked young and vibrant,” he says. And, true to mother-gay son form, Gloria was known to gush, “Dancing, teaching, anything—Scott looks great doing it all!”
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Even in her last years, Gloria’s life outlook never faltered. “She handled life as it came to her with a positive, ‘anything is possible’ attitude,” Scott says. “Even about her cancer. It was in the last year and a half of her life with us that she made that perfectly clear. She was truly an inspiration for so many people.” Gloria and Scott, a mother and son who waltzed together—on the dance floor and in life. “I honor her for the powerful path she walked,” Scott says, “and for being the courageous woman she was.”
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