Eternal Hills Mortuary & Crematory at Eternal Hills Memorial Park
1999 El Camino Real, Oceanside, CA
Gloria Maria Santiago
April 14, 1931 – March 16, 2020
Gloria Maria Santiago “Fulfilled Promises” By Arturo Santiago Jr.
Gloria born in the Great Depression lived through adversity in Puerto Rico and New York City with her mother and brother. This forged a fiery personality; now eclipsed by time and loss. She was always driven by faith in the Virgin Mary, the Trinity, and the Saints. How she ended up with her three little devil boys, I will never know. Gloria tirelessly strove to mold her boys into strong men of character. And we resisted her all the way. Any positive results in her boys was due to her, in spite of us.
With her perfect smile, she talked loud AND carried a big stick. Her boys were Timberwolves growing up in the Bronxdale Projects from the 50’s through the 80’s. She was always the alpha who protected us from city predators, beauacratic indifference… and most importantly… from our own self-destructive inclinations.
She hated the three Stooges (maybe because we were violent enough without getting any ideas.) She also though that comics were the work of the devil. Mother commanded, “No Comics”. SO, naturally we smuggled them into the apartment until the stash was discovered. Then she made me throw them into the incinerator.
Most evenings she’s leave our home and go to church or deal with her numerous volunteer activites. Before departing she’d say, “Go to bed”, and leave us with our father Arturo. When she was gone, Papi would let us get up and watch T.V. We usually were not caught because the cat was belled: meaning she wore a religious amulet which made an unmistakable sound when she walked. Our father would hear the opening of the elevator door in the hall. “Here comes your Ma”, he’d warn… and would scurry to our beds. Gloria always defended her friends like a terrier. She was uncompromising with her locality to those close to her; the underdogs and lost souls of the world.
She was a member of the Bronxdale tenants patrol. At some risk, they made the projects a safer place to live. And if this wasn’t enough she became a Dominican sister (for life!), in the Third Order. As a sister, she nurtured ill people in hospitals and stood vigil at bedside, navigating them to the next world.
He mother was almost deaf, as was she. I was born blind and championed my cause when the system sought to mislabel me. When the city school bus drivers went on strike, she walked me miles to school and back later in the day. She took the time to teach her boys to be polite and respectful. She never coddled us. Instead she gave us responsibilities by giving us chores. When I washed dishes, she expected them to be properly cleaned. If one item didn’t match expectation then all of the dishes would be returned into the sink.
She called my father senior. He loved alcohol. He was a great flawed lonely man. She moderated his behavior by making sure he always went to work, never gambled , and stayed out of bars. A holy lady has her standards.
My father gave up alcohol the last ten years of his life. And they were happy. That is until he had to have a leg amputation and bed care that last year in a V.A hospital. During this time (every day) she took 3 buses and walked up an exhausting hill. She would visit until closing time. Then she endured the same trip home. When he died, the great burden and love of her life was gone and she was left alone in the Bronx. The stress cause her to have a heart attack. She never told anyone the severity of what was happening and she never went to the hospital.
The damage was done. At this time, she had colon cancer but did not know it yet. When her second granddaughter was born, she visited California. Before she could return to the Bronx (where she had medical insurance), her cancer erupted, stranding he on the west coast. She was a warrior wounded in the conflict of living. She ran the gaunt let of medical assaults: heart attacks, two bouts of colon cancer, one with breast cancer. She fell at home and fractured her hip and split open her skull (which was stapled while she was conscious).
For her last 12 years, she was a shell of the glory that was N.Y.C. Gloria. Still she battled on, buoyed up by the gentle efficiency of her stalwart home aid, Emily. With Emily by her side, the impossible was in reach. Her companion will always be in our heart for what she did for Gloria. Though her flame was shuttered, Gloria remained an unapologetic force of nature.
A happy soul, loyal comrade traveling down the road of life. And in her time of dying, moments before the end, she sat up from her slumber and joyfully cried “MOM”. Then she spied her 2 remaining sons on both sides of the bed. She raised both arms, palms up, smiled a divine smile – and laughed, “Aay” and ascended.