“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.” — Rebecca West
“Never let the hand you hold, hold you down.” — Unknown
Hi and welcome to my latest side project, Where the Nightbirds Settle. This site is what it is, a celebration and a tribute to the strong women (real and fictional) who have inspired me and other, who have provided strength when I was feeling weak, and who have helped me (and others) to become not just better women (and men) but better human beings as well. Consider this to be my humble contribution to what I call “no-wave feminism,” fiercely pro-woman and proud of it (but never blindly anti-male) and above all else, a tribute to the individual spirit that makes us all (female and male) unique.
Gloria Elena Marchi Bowman (1958–2008)
Gloria Elena Marchi was born in Benavides, Texas in 1958, the youngest of five children. Her mother was originally from Spain while her father was a 1st generation Italian-American. Gloria grew up in a household where not only was English not the first language, it was the third. Looking back, I always remember that I could never understand why this intelligent, kind, and beautiful woman was always so painfully shy. It’s only now, as I’ve grown up, that I realize that, in her mind, she would always be that outsider who struggled to say in English what she could have so easily articulated in Spanish. Her entire life, she spoke with a unique accent, a lyrical combination of Spanish, Italian, and American southwest that, to the delight of her children, would always become so much stronger whenever she was safely among her family. Perhaps because she was so insecure about her own English, she pushed all four of her daughters to read and write and to speak with the articulation that she incorrectly felt she would never possess.
Gloria was barely 21 years old when she married and before the marriage ended, she would have four daughters: Margaret Megan, Melissa Anne, Erin Nicole, and Lisa Marie. The last 29 years of her life were dedicated to her family and looking back now, my greatest regret is that I never truly appreciated how much strength and courage it took. As a single mother trying to raise four very strong-willed daughters, I am sure there were days when it had to be tempting for her to just give up, to just throw her hands in the air and say, “Go live your own lives, I’ve done all I can do.” She wouldn’t have been wrong because, as a mother, Gloria did everything she could do and then she did even more. Through all the stress and worry that comes with being a single mom, Gloria never gave up on herself or her daughters.
She spent the last nine years of her life battling cancer. I can still remember praying to God night-after-night, demanding that he mystically snap his fingers and take her cancer away. I would beg him not to take her away from me. So many times, she was told that she had beaten the disease, that she was moving towards recovery, just to then have it come back. Sometimes it waited a few months, the last time it waited for three years. But it always came back no matter how much I cried. No matter how many tears I shed, she never allowed me to see her shed one. No matter how angry I got, she never once raised her voice. She never wanted me or anyone else to know how much pain she was in. No matter how ill she felt, she was always there to encourage me when I was down, to wipe away my tears if I cried, and to calm me when I was angry. Everything that she should have demanded from me and others, she gave to us instead.
When she did pass, I was so angry at her for leaving me. Only now do I understand that she didn’t leave me. She’s still with me in my heart forever.
Gloria Elena Marchi Bowman was the strongest and bravest woman that I’ve ever known and ever will know. She is also my mom. And this website is dedicated to her.
– Lisa Marie Bowman, 7-27-10