Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Be or Not to Be--Guest Post by Gloria Stanfa

After my month-long hiatus, I'll be back on the blog-wagon next week. Meanwhile, I'm pleased to share a guest post by none other than Gloria Stanfa, AKA my mother. (Her first-ever attempt at writing something like this. Don't hate her for being naturally talented.)

I had an interesting daydream the other day, nothing mind-bending but it was thought-provoking. Come along with me as I share my would've, should've, could've world!

What do I wish I did in my life? Had the big wedding? No, not particularly. Got a degree at The University of Toledo where I was employed? No, my few credits and our girls graduating is sufficient. Learned to swim? A small maybe. Lost at least 20 pounds? Yes, still!

I was a loved, overprotected only child, who in grade school wrote stories, poems, and took art classes at the museum. In high school I majored in art and was in the drama club, appearing in one-act plays. In our junior play, Men Are Like Streetcars, I waltzed across the stage with an imaginary partner as the curtain opened. I was hooked!

Several years later as a young mother of three girls ages 6, 5 and 3, we made our way into a local production of Gypsy as walkons, with my oldest daughter Lori getting the role of Baby June. Naturally, our daughters discovered their own niches as time passed.

Their mom dabbled in a couple local art classes for fun and one for college credit with Sherry. I took creative writing at UT and yoga classes with DC.

Ah yes, the belly dancing lessons.

After one home demonstration, my husband Denny asked me, "What was that?" My response: "It was a hip roll."

He replied with our Stanfa sarcasm, "Oh, I thought you were having a seizure."

Not long after, Sherry, my friend Barb and I took acting at the Toledo Rep from a wonderful actress/instructor. I found it more intriguing than my oil painting or writing. Our acting teacher saw potential in me, complimented what I did and said I'd be a great Auntie Mame (the famous Rosalind Russell role).

Life and perhaps a lack of confidence in remembering some lines led me away.

Several years flew by and sadly Denny passed on, yet four wonderful grandchildren entered my life. I enjoyed delightful travels and times with family and friends. I wrote several eulogies and poems, but my daughters are the writers and story-tellers now.

Eventually, Sherry and her two boys (then in grade school) and I took acting classes one summer. Wow, I was still smitten!

I've seen many singers, such as Elton, Tony, Rod, Paul, Jimmy Buffet, even Frank back in his day! But the plays and stage productions are where my heart lies. The Phantom in London, Cats in Toronto, Mama Mia in Vegas, The Producers in New York (even Gypsy for my 70th in NYC) were some of my big ones. Florida, Michigan and Ohio have also given me great productions. Our local playhouses are to be remembered as well. In fact, we just saw Denny's cousin, Martin Boyer, locally in Bye Bye Birdie.

Would've, could've, should've... I still have the acting bug in my heart. Does this one dream that stands out above the others make me feel sad after all these years?

No. I'm smiling as I write this, and I feel quite confident and content.

I see the audience through the bright lights, as I walk out slowly and dramatically, entering stage right. I clearly look it, I feel it, I own it and I don't forget one line!

I am Auntie Mame, just as I always knew I could be.

Any dreams you still ponder or wish to fulfill? Any regrets of doing or not doing so? Better yet, in line with my theatrical thoughts, who do you think could play you--or whom would you like to portray--in a stage production or movie?


  1. So nice to meet you, Gloria!

    I absolutely relate. I was an actor for a good portion of my life and the stage is a place I feel completely at home. Magic lives there and to be a part of it is truly one of the greatest gifts there is. You really ought to think about dabbling in it. Maybe start with a class. You never know where it will lead you.

    We put on Auntie Mame in junior high school and my mom (somehow) managed to get the real Mame, Marion Tanner, to some and see it. She was in a wheelchair at the time but she glowed. I wish I understood how special that moment was but I was too young. Somewhere I have a picture...

    Me? It's always been about Pippi Longstocking.

  2. Gloria,
    What beautiful writing and beautiful memories.
    As for dreams, I still have them all like a giant checklist waiting to be crossed off.
    There's the writing one, of course, but then there are others. My husband grew up with not enough to eat. I want to open up a before school breakfast place where kids get to any way theey can and get a good meal and help with any homework that they may not have the home support to do. A sort of "start the day off right" program. Unfortunately, I'd have to win the lottery to get it going, but I haven't ruled it out.
    Lots of dreams...thanks for sharing one of yours.

  3. macdougalstreetbaby and lyra:

    Thanks for your kind responses to my guest blog. I think our dreams past, present and future are so needed in this crazy world. Don't rule any of yours out nor will I mine!


  4. Anyone who spawned Sherry is a friend of mine! I will still continue to heckle her at work and steal Diet Coke's from here...even though I 'know' her mom now.

    I am turning 30 in 5 weeks so I am making a '30 in 30' list. 30 things I want to do while I am 30...I am having fun with it.

  5. When I was a kid, I was always glad that my parents never forced me to play an instrument, as did so many of my friends' parents. But boy do I ever regret that now. I'd so love to be that guy that could stride up to that empty piano and start banging out some elegant, rolling boogie-woogie. Or the guy that could whip out a guitar at some bonfire and accompany on any song people wanted to sing. Sigh...

    At least I got to watch a lot more Batman episodes...

  6. Amanda: Keep working on your "30s" list and do any of them you can! Let us know which ones you accomplish. I didn't get in the water with dolphins until I was 70.(Something I had always wanted to do.)

    bluzdude: There are always alternatives. How about the air guitar around a bonfire as your friends join in drinking and singing? As time passes one needs a good imagination (or more drinking)to go with alternative dreams.

    Go for it!


  7. It's Gloria! I almost feel like I know you after Sherri's post about your holiday disasters.

    Dreams? As Lyra says, the writing one for starters.

  8. Mom, great blog. Like the dedication in my book says, thanks for showing me (us)what's so funny about the drama. And as some of my colleagues in the box business "We're livin' the dream." Yes, with much sarcasm.
    your Middle One

  9. Downith: I feel I know each of you bloggers as well, while you follow Sherry's wonderful blogs. She is back with you next week!

    dc (my middle one): Thanks for your comments and for your love. You are another writer in the family displaying our quirky humor.


  10. So nice to meet you, Gloria. I see that humor runs in the family.

    I have one dream, which is to move to the Pacific northwest. Portland, maybe, or Seattle. We're getting our ducks in a row, our piggybank filled, and then it's hello pine trees.

  11. I can see where Sherry gets her chutzpah, style, and grace.

    Despite having a face for radio and a voice for mime, I always thought I was born for Vaudeville, just a little too late. And I've always wanted to play the mayor's wife in Music Man ("BaaaaaalZAC!"). Our town's theater guild held auditions -- but I missed them! Next time . . .

    I'd also love to write a play --- actually, the one that's been knocking around in my head for a couple years, a combination of the Mouse that Roared and Comedy of Errors. And maybe a little Once Upon a Mattress. Maybe someday. . .

  12. averildean: Never been to the northwest but hear it's gorgeous. You get out there and Sherry and I will visit with her first novel book signing!

    Sarah W: We need a new, young Carol Burnett actress/comedian (and I believe she was in Once Upon a Mattress). Someday, sooner or later, your dream could become your reality.


  13. Gloria, as a mom to two wee girls, that post had me teary the entire time, but mostly, just so enjoying every word. What touched me the most was the lovely way you revealed how full and rich your life is, your passions and your loves, your children the sun it all revolves around.

    I feel the very same way about theater. The acting bug hit me young, going to a few shows with my NYC grandmother, and then through HS and college. After that, I headed out to LA to try my hand at the big-time, but realized not only was I not about to lose 30 pounds and get a nose job (actual advice given to me when I was applying for a WAITRESSING job out there!) but I missed theater. The dream wasn't deferred so much as down-sized. I do community theater now and cherish those opportunities, but, as you do, as I know we ALL do, I cherish my family most of all.

    (PS--Tell Sherry we want you back again!)

  14. Erika:

    Thanks for your warm response to my guest post. I was happy to see you are following the road of community theater AND Sherry just informed me you are a published author. I don't need to say YOU GO GIRL, because you are going and doing. I looked up your book and love the cover design, very inviting. (Will read it soon!)

    As for me, I will guest again sometime if the invite stays! Meanwhile let's all welcome my daughter back this next week with her wonderful writing!


  15. I have no idea how to answer the questions at the end, because all I kept thinking was, "In my next life, will you be my mother!?" How dang fun and spirited are you. I see Sherry is not far from the tree...

  16. Teri:

    Hey there Teri! I do love daughters, so we might be able to add you to the family, next time around! There is one clause you must sign before entering: find another mom for the years thirteen through nineteen!

    from their fun (but sometimes mean-spirited) mom

  17. Dear Mama Stanfa, I also checked out DC's site this morning. You are all too much fun. Cheers to you!

  18. Teri: You should buy DC's book to learn more about our fun family!