The baby was given two names at birth.
Gene (her parents were expecting a boy)
No one knows why she was given this name – she just was.
And so began the life of Gene Dolores.
Raised in poverty, Gene Dolores had to leave school at twelve to work and help support her family.
Serious health issues plagued her life, and it would have been easy for her to dwell on her misfortunes and live according to the fullness of her middle name – Dolores – the root of which means ‘sorrow.’ It was not the greatest of names for a sweet little baby girl who loved life, loved to laugh, and loved to dance.
As we all know, there are times when life intervenes in our lives … when happiness may be evasive and negativity overwhelms. But even in those moments, joy is there for us to choose.
In spite of life intervening with poverty and ill health, as the years passed, Gene Dolores understood that unlike happiness (a feeling), joy was a choice (a decision).
Gene Dolores chose to live a life of joy and slowly began to discover the sadness lifting and her life changing.
Gene Dolores was a gifted dancer and when an opportunity presented itself to be on Broadway in New York City, she met and danced with Broadway and movie star Ray Bolger. He recognized the “joy-within” Gene Dolores and was the first to call her “Joy.” It was a name she adopted for the rest of her life.
I never met Gene Dolores.
But I did meet Joy.
She was my mother.
Tomorrow begins the Third Week of the Season of Advent for many. Its theme is JOY.
May we choose JOY each day. And may the Third Sunday of Advent bring joy your way in gentle, unexpected and blessed ways.
This is a photo of my mother, Joy Mack, and Ray Bolger.
It is a treasured memory.
Ray Bolger’s words on the back of this photo:
To “Joy,” Here’s hoping I’m not too presumptuous. Best always. Ray Bolger
The signed photo of the two of them (in bed together on a Broadway stage at the end of their dance number <g>) began Mom’s journey from ‘sorrow’ (‘Dolores’) to adopting the name ‘Joy’ for the years after Ray Bolger wrote that note. Apologies for the lack of quality in the photo – it’s a very old photograph. A treasure to be sure. 🙂