Tag Archive: Melissa Anne Bowman

Well, here we are.  It’s Labor Day, 2010.  Was it everything you hoped it would be?

It wasn’t for me, largely because I originally thought that Labor Day was yesterday as opposed to today.  My sister Erin informed me of my error on Sunday morning as we drove out to my uncle’s place.  Apparently, Labor Day Weekend is a separate holiday from Labor Day.

Personally, I tend to take my holidays for granted.  It’s rare that I ever give much thought to why we celebrate a holiday.  I just celebrate it.  This is especially true as far as Labor Day is concerned.  Seriously, what the Hell are we celebrating?  I checked on Wikipedia earlier today and, having read the article, I can still say that I have no idea.

The nearest I can figure is that Labor Day is the day when the middle and upper classes honor the lower class by taking a day off work.

Personally, I’ve always found that just the name “Labor Day” brings to mind some dreary state-enforced holiday in some Marxist dictatorship somewhere.  That’s one reason why I always make it a point to observe Labor Day by wearing red underwear.

Both me and Erin have spent this Labor Day at my sister Melissa’s house where we’ve had the honor of babysitting our niece Shannon while Melissa was at work. 

If anyone deserved to have this holiday off, it’s Melissa.  Melissa is a little over four years older than me and she is one of the strongest women I know.  Back when I was just a painfully shy little girl who hid her face behind a mass of red hair and who spoke with a humiliating stutter, Melissa was my protector.  Anyone who so much as even thought about picking on me was running the risk of inviting the wrath of my big sister. 

I remember growing up, I always wanted to be strong and confident like Melissa, even though I would certainly never actually tell her that.  And now, two decades later, Melissa’s is still my hero and my role model.  When I watch her with Shannon, I feel like I understand what it truly means to be a strong woman. 

But still, Melissa — like most Americans who are lucky enough to have a job right now — had to work on the day that is meant to honor her.  Now me, I would have probably thrown one of my patented spoiled-little-brat fits if I had to work today while everyone else got to take off.  And I imagine if I had, Melissa would have been the first person to tell me to knock it off.  I have never heard Melissa complain about having to go to work every day even though I know she’d rather be home with her daughter.  I have never seen Melissa indulge in a single second of self-pity even though I know that she, as a single mother, has to deal with things that I probably can’t even begin to imagine.  When I talk to Melissa, she doesn’t tell me about her daily frustrations or difficulties.  Instead, she tells me how much she loves her daughter.  Well, that and she usually tells me not to stay up so late.  She’s still protecting me and I don’t tell her enough that I love her for that (even if it does drive me crazy at the time).

Out of me and my three sisters, Melissa has always been the one who most resembled our mom.  Melissa’s got mom’s beautiful, dark hair (I used to be so jealous!) and her earthy laugh.  But she got something else too.  Ever since mom left us, I’ve come to realize that Melissa inherited mom’s strength and courage as well.  Though Melissa and I have very different interests (I can spend hours talking about Big Brother and Project Runway whereas Melissa might turn on her TV once or twice a week) and we certainly don’t see eye-to-eye on everything (if you ever see the two of us starting to talk about politics, hide!), she’s still the strong, brave woman that I hope to some day become.

As I sit here in the living room, typing on my laptop, I can here Melissa and Erin setting the kitchen table for dinner.  After we eat, Erin and I have a long drive back to our place.  So, I’m going to go eat with my sisters and then I’m going to hug my niece and say goodbye.

And later tonight, before I go to bed, I’m going to think about how lucky I was to spend today with Melissa, Shannon, and Erin.

For me, that’s what makes this day special.

Happy Labor Day.

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.  This website is dedicated to her.

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