In honor of Marcella
Marcella Ann Steil was her name until she married Lou Gregg. At which point she became Marcie Gregg. A mother, a wife, a dutiful daughter, an entrepreneur, a pillar of her local midwestern community, the life of the party and a woman well before her time.
She wasn't just any mother. She was my mother.
The renaissance woman of the 70's and 80's who patiently balanced a highly-sensitive child with the demands of running the back-end of our family business—Lou Gregg's Autohaus, leading the YMCA women's committee and civic organizations around town, entertaining friends, keeping up with a bevy of raucous aunts and soothing her heart-broken father who never got over losing his wife—my grandmother.
An only child raised lovingly in Dayton, Ohio by a first generation German father who fell in love with a gracious, generous Kentucky native, my mother was what they called a "whipper-snapper" in her day. She was smart, quick-witted, and gregarious. She made friends easily. One of her best friends from college, Miss Nancy as I called her, is now my son's "Nona Nancy" and a still a dear mother figure to me to this day.
Mom was a waif of a woman at 88 lbs most of her life. She only broke 100 lbs when she was pregnant with me. She was so naturally thin, her mother had to make her clothes until she graduated college. Despite her physical size, her personality and determination were a force to be reckoned with. She graduated Miami University of Ohio with a degree in Business Administration, ready to conquer the world. When she left Mead Industries, family legend is they needed three people to replace her.
When she met a mechanic that could keep up with her on the dance floor and intellectually, her friends questioned her choice to go steady with a guy that only had a high-school education, but she saw his potential. Together my power parents would go on to birth a successful business and me.
When my father wanted to start a business, mom worked a day job to pay the bills and did the books for Autohaus at night. Her ability to stretch a dollar like a Gumby doll, grew the business from a garage in Yellow Springs, to a one car showroom in Fairborn to a multi-acre, multi-franchise, legitimate car dealership. She was the brains of the family business to balance my father's salesman savvy. He sold the cars while she kept the lights on.
Never a couple to play small in 1972, my parents bought a house, built a giant car dealership out of a former grocery store and had me.
They never slowed down. They vacationed in glamorous spots like Mexico, Japan, Europe. They had a date every Saturday night despite working together every day. They hosted and were hosted at friends houses regularly for dinners and card games that lasted late into the night. I can't tell you how late because as I lay in my bed trying to listen to every word in the kitchen I would eventually fall asleep despite the uproar of laughter.
My mom was part of my father's pit crew as he traveled the country racing his Porsches and later Nissans for SCCA and hill climbs. She pulled together gala fundraisers for around town with her eyes closed. And somehow they still made a homemade dinner every night.
Her light was bright. But like many shining lights, it burnt out too soon. She died in 1984. She was 48. Too young to die, but her work here was done. She couldn't take the burden of life on earth no more.
You never get over losing a parent. I often say, "it never hurts less, just less often."
As part of my healing journey, I've been forced to deal with a lifetime of grief about her loss. In this journey, I've grown comfortable with many woo-woo healers including mediums.
It's become clear to me that mom never left my side. In all the years I've talked to her and missed her she was right next to me, I just couldn't see her or touch her.
So to all the other motherless daughters, motherless mothers and parentless parents out there today, Mother's Day 2018, don't be afraid to raise a glass to your mother also.
She's still with you. She still loves you. In fact, she may love you more if you had a troubled relationship because she's at peace now.
And remember it's okay to mourn our lost mothers even as we celebrate ourselves as mothers. Give yourself the time you need to honor them in whatever way that is today. Maybe have a good cry, tell a story about her, look at old pictures of her, post a pic on FB, or all the above like I just did. Whatever you feel is okay because you're safe and loved even though she's not here to hug you.
In light and love and memory of a great mother,