I watched this documentary last night. It was about the CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and his relationship with his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, the infamous heiress of one of America’s wealthiest families in history. After she recovers from a serious illness at age 91, the mother and son decide to re-evaluate their relationship by opening up the emotional flood-gates of communication until “nothing left unsaid.”
I was so arrested by this extraordinary woman and her relentless will to move forward. A woman who has experienced one of the worst traumas anyone could ever endure – being an eyewitness to her child’s suicide – I was curious to explore how she could still rise above the most unimaginable loss and still persevere in life with such grace and hope.
There was once a child living everyday… expecting tomorrow to be different from today. – Gloria Vanderbilt
Her strength is quite. She seems to possess this inner and absolute resolution about life that “without pain, you can’t know joy.” Without night, there can’t be day. Without darkness, there can’t be light. This is life’s nature and accepting it simply as is, that’s what sustains her!
So simple yet so hard to adopt. We spend our lives fighting yin against yang and yang against yin, so vigorously that we get lost in it. Yet knowing that pain can only co-exist with joy in the end gives us the hope we need in order to survive. Her hope for the future is always in bloom and that’s what makes her thrive even at age 92.
A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing safe. – Mary Gordon
Losing her father at an early age and becoming a victim of a brutal custody battle between her mother and her father’s sister Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (founder of the Whitney Museum), she always seems to be on the search for love and safety – from Sinatra to Stokowski to Sidney Lumet… trying to create a family life as well as an artistic one. “I am always in love,” Gloria admits in an interview. “If not a person, a flower or the sun.” Always looking for beauty in life, she expresses this deep romance on her colorfully moving paintings.
The romantic in me wonders, “Is love the fundamental nutrition of hope?” The cynic in me bites back, “No, it’s pragmatism wearing the mask of hope. That’s what one needs to survive.” I take a long pause as I sip the last drop of wine in my glass. I decide that today, the romantic in me wins.
It’s the possibility of love that gives her hope. And hope gives her the fuel to ride through the tumultuous waves of life. Strong but not tough, vulnerable but open is how her son describes her and I ask myself if one can learn to be in this disposition. The mind and the heart. They are powerful than we realize. I believe if our hearts are inspired and our minds are set, we can learn anything.