Gloria Giraldi

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It is an absolute honor to be asked to speak about Gloria. I want to thank Joseph, Daniella and Beth Ann for asking me to speak on behalf of their family. This is a tall order, and I hope I can live up to it. Lucia and I spent the day yesterday reflecting about Gloria, and we both put together the comments I will share with you today.

For those of you who don't know me, I am a friend of Gloria's from work. She has been a dear friend of mine for the past 4 years or so. We worked in the same building, we had lunch regularly, we trained together, in fact, we went to Monterrey last year to present at a workshop just about her job and what she has done in the field of child protection. We talked daily. She was one of my mentors. She used to take me shopping because I hate to shop and she loved it, so she would help me out. And most recently, Gloria and I have spent our time together at doctor's appointments, in the chemotherapy room, and in radiation.

I first met Gloria about 6 years ago. I was sitting at my desk, working hard on my cases as a newly hired court intervention social worker, when my phone rang. I had no idea, no warning about what was about to take place.

(To give you some background, I was working with a family who had their own therapist. I told them it was fine that they continue with their same therapist, rather than switching to a court approved therapist. One of Gloria's primary assignments was to ensure that we used court approved therapists. So for those of you who know Gloria's personality well, you know what's coming)

I answered the phone, and Gloria said, "This is Dr. Giraldi. What do you think you are doing authorizing this family to see their own therapist!!" I started to explain my logic. She interjected and started to yell. I tried to explain some more. She yelled some more. I started to panic. I switched to apologizing. Still, she's yelling at me. I apologized some more. It's not working. Then I switched to how I will fix the situation right away. Still, some more yelling. Finally, I say I don't know what else to do or to say to resolve this... She didn't know what else to do either, but she said she was still mad. We both had that awkward moment of silence, and then we got off the phone.

So the first thing I learned about Gloria was: You never had to wonder how she felt about something.

Yesterday I was talking to Margo about Gloria. Margo works at the same office with Gloria, and we were just trying to comprehend that she had actually passed. Margo reminded me of "The Gloria Entrance".

Gloria would come to work each day - usually around 9:00 or 9:30 (she would never be described as an early riser). And when she arrived at work, it was something to behold. Gloria would glide in - her hair done perfectly, her nails painted perfectly, beautiful sparking rings on every finger. She would be wearing an exquisite outfit - and you really never did see a repeat outfit. Gloria would greet everyone she passed by. "Hello! how are you" Smiling, connecting. Happy to see everyone. She'd be juggling a brief case with lots of papers, a few folders, and her purse. It was common that she would still be wearing her sunglasses. And even more typical, she would be on her cell phone - most likely talking with one of her children.

Then, there was the "Gloria Vocabulary". If you spent any time with her at all, you would hear at least one of these phrases:

"Gorgeous! Gorgeous! I love that fabric, where did you get that outfit"


"Disgusting! Unbelievable. Disgusting."

Gloria was a passionate woman. She felt deeply and she expressed herself deeply. She was the most loyal, protective friend I have ever had, and probably ever will have. If anyone caused problems with any of her friends, you would hear another standard Gloria expression, "I'll kill him! I'll kill him! (or her)"

When the staff at Gloria's office was told last Friday that she has passed away, they were upset. One of the social workers, Lourdes, said, "I feel so unprotected now." And that's the way Gloria was. If you presented a case to her at work, and she got behind what you were doing with the case, she would protect you and fight for you to the end.

Gloria was nonjudgmental. You could talk to her about anything. She had such an ability to listen and to honor you. She had amazing insight. Only two weeks ago, we were just out of the hospital, and Gloria had been in a lot of pain and had been struggling. But I talked to her about something that was causing me problems in my personal life, and she offered me profound insight as to how to resolve that particular challenge.

Gloria was incredibly generous. If any of you ever went to lunch with her and tried to pay, you know what I am talking about. She would give you the shirt off of her back. She would give you her time. She gave her loyalty.

Lucia was reminding me that Gloria always wanted to be where the action was - she wanted to know what was happening. When she would call, she'd usually start the conversation with, "What's going on What's happening" Later, when she was home sick, she always wanted to know what was going on at work. She would say, "I want to consult. Let me know if I can help. I can look things up. You can fax me things. Tell the workers to fax me and to call me!"

Gloria was sensitive. She felt deeply, and wanted to be accepted so badly. She could get her feelings hurt easily.

And it is so sad that Gloria has passed at this time. She didn't have an easy life. She didn't have an easy childhood. She has overcome so many challenges. Gloria said that she felt the happiest and the best she has ever felt in her life in the past five years. She felt so cheated that she had to die when she was finally happy, and when things were working so well in her personal and professional lives.

I talked with Gloria's father, Elliott, on the way home from the hospital, just after Gloria passed away on Friday. He told me that Gloria has been a fighter since she was a young child. She would assess the situation, and if she thought something was wrong, she would fight for what she thought was right.

Gloria grew up in New York. She was primarily raised by her father. He remembers that she was always studying as a child, and always wanting to learn more. She worked so hard in school. And that's another thing about Gloria. She told me that she had a learning disability of some sort. But she didnt let that stop her. She got a degree as a Registered Nurse. And then she went back to school to become a psychologist. And then she earned her Ph.D. She is even a published author.

As I said, Gloria spent her childhood in New York. She LOVED New York. It seems to me that she went back there every few months. She loved Soho, she loved the restaurants, the shopping, seeing her children. She would call her friends when she was in New York and hold out her phone to the street saying, "Listen! Listen to New York!"

I really could not talk about Gloria in her entirety if I didn't talk about her work. Gloria loved her job. She was the staff psychologist at Child Protective Services. Her job was the kind of job where you could relax, consult a little bit with the social workers, and collect a pay check. But Gloria did not approach her job this way. She made it into something. Gloria was into policy, procedures, research, advocacy, and constant consultations and oversight of payments to psychologists. She was ferocious in her commitment to be sure that we were using the correct funding sources to pay for therapy for our clients.

Gloria was so committed to her work that she even went out on a home visit with a social worker to assess a mother who was mentally ill. Gloria went into a home with this social worker that even the police were fearful of entering alone. She helped to assess the situation, and to provide the best services to that family. The police said that they had never seen such excellent service provided to a family before.


And if Gloria wasn't working hard enough or long enough at Child Protective Services, she added a private practice into her daily work schedule. She would see clients on evenings and on weekends. Gloria was so committed to her clients that it was common that she would see them for free.

Gloria was at her best in the work place. She was secure in her professional abilities, and she thrived in this setting. This might be one of the reasons that she found it so difficult to let go of work.

Gloria also had a thriving personal life. I have had the good fortune to meet her husband, children, and her closest friends during the past 7 months while she has been sick. Now that I have met Gloria's family and friends, I understand why she was not a willing participant in her process of dying. Gloria died peacefully, but she died fighting. She did not want to leave her family and her friends.

Gloria adored her three children. And they adored her. Her children are the most dedicated, loyal, loving children any parent could ask for. Daniella has been by her mother's side for the past several months. She temporarily left her job and her boyfriend to be with her mother. Daniella is a nurse, and she was vigilant about providing her mother with the most excellent care. If I ever get sick, I hope that I will be fortunate enough to have Daniella overseeing my care.

Beth Ann left school in Davis to be home with her mother in her last month of life. She did not leave her mother's bedside once she entered the hospital. I was constantly after her to get a few hours of sleep, and to eat.

Joseph came from New York and has been working tirelessly on Gloria's affairs, and ensuring that she receive the best possible care. He left his new job after working only one day.



All three children and their significant others were by Gloria's side when she passed.

Lucia was telling me that whenever Gloria talked about her children, she exuded pride. You could see sunshine in her eyes and her smile when she talked about her children, their accomplishments, their antics. She talked to each of her children daily.

Ernie, who loved Gloria unconditionally, told me one day on our way home from the hospital that Gloria had the kind of relationship with all three of their kids that parents dream to have with even one of their children - they told her everything.

Apparently Gloria was the "cool mom" on the block. Because many of her children's friends traveled from several different states to say good bye in her last days at the hospital. One of Joseph's friends is a doctor. He was on rounds when he got the news about Gloria, and he simply walked out of the hospital in his scrubs, got on a plane, and came to San Diego to say goodbye to Gloria in the hospital. These friends were not just their to support Joseph, Daniella and BethAnn. They were there to put closure on their own personal relationships with Gloria, and to thank her for all that she added to their lives.

Gloria has at least eight core friends, who have been steadfastly by her side since she was diagnosed with cancer. I think it's a tribute to a person's character to see who is around them when they finally pass. In Gloria's case, we had a problem with crowd control at the hospital. There were about 25 people at the hospital at any given time to say goodbye to Gloria in the last two days of her life. Even the family dog came to say goodbye to Gloria. I was one of the enforcers of crowd control at the hospital, so if I offended any of you here by asking you to step outside of the hospital room, I apologize. The main point is that Gloria was a giver. And many times people who give are surrounded by people who take. Gloria was fortunate to have many friends who gave back to her, especially in her final months, when she was most vulnerable.

In closing, I want to say again that it was an honor to be one of Gloria's close friends. She gave so much to me, and she has taught me so many lessons. One of Gloria's biggest concerns was the welfare of her children after she passed. I want to tell each of you kids that your mother remains alive in each of our hearts. Please look around this room and see all of the people here who loved your mother. This is your extended family. Your mother is alive in each of their hearts, and in this way, she will never leave you, or us.