August 3, 2000
A tribute to Gladys......
I was a nervous first-time mother when I met Gladys. She was referred to me by a neighbor who knew that I was searching for a quality caregiver for our 3-month-old daughter, Kelly, as I contemplated returning to work. As an only child, I knew very little about babies in general, and the responsibilities of caring for this new life were somewhat overwhelming, I must admit. The idea of leaving Kelly with anyone disturbed me, but I knew I had no choice.
Then Gladys appeared at my door for an "interview," and I knew that my prayers had been answered. It was obvious that she knew more about babies than I did, and Kelly immediately responded to her gentle voice and sweet manner. It was also obvious that this was a woman of great intelligence, common sense, and practicality with whom our child would be safe and happy. From that day, Gladys became part of our family.
Of course, so valuable was Gladys that I would gladly have turned over my entire paycheck to her just to insure that she would never leave! When our son, Matthew, was born four years later, I worried that she might not want to care for two children, but she was as "hooked" on our family as we were on her. Although she never showed favoritism, I always felt that Matt was special to her because she could relate more easily to boys. Still, she gave both our children equal time and attention, and they flourished under her care.
I cannot begin to describe the ways in which Gladys enriched our lives. She was a teacher, a nurse, a playmate, a psychologist, a marriage counselor, and a dear friend. Ray and I firmly believe that many of our children's best qualities were developed by being in her presence......their love of books, their sense of humor, their vivid imaginations, their interest in school, and, of course, their excellent eating habits! Certainly she was primarily responsible for teaching them both to read at an early age, and she would certainly be proud of Kelly's position as a newspaper copy editor and of Matt's scholastic excellence. I hope that she would also be proud of us as parents, for she taught me much about being a mother.
I have many wonderful memories of Gladys, not the least of which occurred one Halloween. Kelly and Matt were about 8 and 4 years old respectively, and they were in costume, waiting for Gladys so that she could go trick-or-treating with us. Suddenly we spotted a "ghost" coming toward us on the sidewalk. Both children screamed with delight as they watched this mysterious figure approaching us. It took them several minutes to guess that it was Gladys under that white sheet! There she was, 75 years old, dressed up for Halloween and loving every minute of being a kid again!
Another great memory is her 90th birthday party in 1999 which Ray and I attended in California. Although her memory and speech were fading, I know she recognized us and realized that we had come from Chicago to participate in this wonderful celebration of her life. The twinkle in her eye when she gave Ray a kiss was unmistakable, and we cherish that image of her now.
Gladys is in a better place, and the world is richer because of her life. I am sad that we can't be there to participate in her memorial service, but we have wonderful memories of the time she spent with our family. Rich, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you as you deal with this terrible loss.
Marsha, Ray, Kelly, and Matt Caccamo
See also Some words about Gladys by Kelly Caccamo