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  • Writer's pictureReuben Berger

My Mom ~ Gloria Bayla (Golden Sunshine) Berger

My mom was a beautiful person. She was only with us until a few months before her 28th birthday. I am certain that she deeply touched the hearts of many. Years after her sudden passing, while helping my dad clean out one of his closets, I found some lovely photos of her and made some collages.

I wanted to share some of the lovely photos

I am not sure who took this photo of my mom but you can really see the purity in her smile. I feel it's important to have tributes to those who have passed on,

There I am sitting on her lap on the rocky shores of Lake Simcoe with my brother, David who was two years older. Somewhere deep within we remember these special moments and it's as though we spend our lives trying to get back to how it felt all those years ago when all we really knew and felt was oneness, peace, love and harmony.

In this photo, we are at the camp where the beach above is. My dad, Michael Berger was the director of a camp called 'Mothers and Babes' through the Jewish Camp Council, where moms could go with their youngsters and often the father would join them on the weekends. I'd say a pretty cool job. The camp eventually turned into 'Goodfellowship Lodge' which was a summer camp for senior citizens. I would often visit my dad at the Senior's Camp and help out here and there. I recall sitting on the dock by lovely Maple Lake and there was an older man sitting there and he mentioned that he was a surgeon. It was just one of those moments where it made me ponder what the meaning of life is. I feel it's healthy to spend time with people of various ages and age groups. I love the oneness feeling I sense from this photo ~ there I am on the left, like I was preparing for my yoga journeys down the road. I am sure life was a phenomenal experience during the days of this photo.

In this photo below, my mom is on the shores of Moose Lake where she was a counselor at Camp Northland B'nai Brith which is the summer camp where she met my dad. Camp Northland is a gorgeous camp on 700 acres of mostly forested land surrounding over half of this lake on both sides...

It's like you truly feel as though you are in Canada up at camp where it's as though the outside world disappears and camp is all your know. From my observation ~ camp staff are some of the 'happiest campers' in terms of an incredible way to spend a summer. I love the idea of year round camps. I have often wondered if those are orbs in the photo as though there were so many angels around my dear mom and perhaps, in the end, she became an angel for me, always there whispering in my ear ~ feel the love, it's always there. I am sure that my mom was an amazing counselor for those lucky girls who had the opportunity to spend with her. She was likely about 18 in this photo.

This is another picture of her on the shores of Moose Lake at Camp Northland B'nai Brith. My mom was born April 24, 1941 so she would have been 18 in this photo. I absolutely love her smile ~ truly a very happy camper. I am sure she has brightened the path of many wherever she's been 'camping' lately.

She must have been around ten or so in this photo.

I am pretty sure this photo was taken at her sweet 16 party.

This is my dad and mom in Mexico.

Mom being playful...

Mom and dad in Mexico I believe...

My mom with her mom on that special day. My mom was the youngest of three (she had 2 older brothers). I know that her and my mom were best of friends ~ I can only imagine how much they loved being together.

My grandmother (who I called Boobie) had said once that she almost had a perfect life except for the loss of her daughter ~ it's hard to fathom the utter pain that she must have felt on that tragic day. Boobie ~ My grandmother ~ in many ways became my best friend even though I recall often thinking that I wanted to share something important with her but my next thought was that I didn't want her to worry and so I didn't share with her because I sensed it would make her worry. And so, the truth was that I really had no one with whom I shared my deepest thoughts and feelings. When we share with someone, it makes it more real in our experience. When we don't have anyone to share with, we can easily get lost within, it can be very hard to be in touch with what we are actually feeling especially if we are in an environment that we are not ultimately happy in.

One of the biggest issues in our 'modern' era is loneliness and often very little authentic connection with another human being. I can see in this photo (above) how deeply connected my mom was to her mom, it's very heartwarming as it reminds us of the true purpose of life ~ to feel oneness with yourself and with the rest of creation. Many people likely experience the first few years of their lives this way, feeling oneness, love, peace and harmony but then 'things happen' and walls go up and once a wall goes up it can be very challenging to do anything about it. We get used to feeling somewhat distant from those we may have felt very connected to at an earlier time in our lives. This photo reminds us that getting back to oneness is what it's all about in the end.

The Big Day back in 1961 ~ their whole lives in front of them. We never know what tomorrow will bring so it's best to live each day to the fullest.

My mom, Gloria Bayla Rubinoff, was 20 years old on her wedding day. My dad, Michael Thomas Berger, 26. The year was 1961.

These are my mom's two brothers. Uncle Phil, on the left is the oldest and Larry was the middle child. Larry had been down in Mexico living on a coconut grove on the Pacific Coast of Mexico in the State of Oaxaca (pronounced Wahawka). My mom (who was five months pregnant) and my dad decided to fly down for a Christmas Holiday about eight years after their wedding day. My brother, who was four years old and eight months and myself who was two years old and eight months stayed back at home with a Nanny. She was coming out of the ocean one day and wasn't feeling well and so they took her to a hospital ~ I can only imagine how scary barely understanding what the doctors or nurses were saying...

Sounds like she got flown to another hospital but passed away ~ taking her last breath in some Mexican hospital deep in the heart of Mexico. I always sensed that my Uncle Larry carried that burden with him. I always noticed in my encounters with my Uncle Larry that he seemed to have a challenge making eye contact. In a sense, in losing my mom it's almost as though I had lost my family on a certain level as though no one could be quite themself after, as though her presence simply livened every scene she set foot in.

I always really liked both of my Uncles, they both had a certain depth about them. Uncle Phil, to this day, is passionate about his work in the building industry. Uncle Larry was always drawn more to writing, mostly fiction. In the foreword to one of his fiction books, 'Faces in the Firelight' he wrote a dedication to his mom and his sister (my mom) which goes...

 For Fay and Gloria.

                                                      Warmth radiating out through

                                                                the mists of time.

That was as much as I had ever read that he wrote about my mom. I never did read his book. In fact, I was hardly ever reading fiction which seemed to, in some ways, require more of your attention and it seemed as though I stayed away from many aspects of life that required my full presence. This book is over 500 pages You can order a copy on Amazon.

Uncle Larry passed on some years ago. I wish I had had a chance to spend more time with him. He loved to travel. He told me once of a scene somewhere in Asia where he was down by a river and there was a monk meditating on the pier as the sun was rising over the river. There was something mystical about Uncle Larry. I see this image of him laying in his hammock in his coconut grove, the Pacific Ocean lapping on the shore and he has a spear gun under his hammock for another days adventure. I can almost see him in his shorts on shore, cooking the daily catch over a fire on the beach as the sun sets into the deep ocean waters. I believe he went on a year long trip at least once. It seemed as though he didn't quite fit in the 9 to 5 world that most live in. It was as though he was searching for a higher purpose. In my experience, it seems in the end, that there is only one thing that most search for ~ a feeling of inner peace and harmony.

I asked my Uncle Larry once if he could write the story of my dad and my mom coming to visit on that holiday that turned out to be a one way journey for his sister. I think I may have even asked him a second time but I got a sense that it was just too painful. It seems as though writing (like speaking in many ways) helps us get in touch with deeper feelings. I am also aware that it can be painful getting in touch with these deeper feelings because just like anything, feelings need to be processed; how does one process their feelings when living in such a fast paced world? It seems, more than anything, that people need to take more time to process feelings that they may have suppressed long ago. I came to realize that people need a place to go to process their feelings.

Perhaps I can call it 'Gloria's Sanctuary' in tribute to the pure love that my mom seemed to naturally channel ~ when you walk into Gloria's Sanctuary you'll feel that pure love allowing you to truly rest, let go and gain greater clarity on which direction you want to go in for the next leg of your journey.

And here I am standing on the waterfall property that became part of my family about 30 years ago. And, in all that time, it's almost as though it rarely dawned on me that 'something' was missing, it was more like 'someone' was missing. Much of my experience of life has been being aware of that feeling that 'someone is missing'.

I spent quite a bit of time going up to the lands where waterfalls flow, with a little cabin on the hill heated by a wood stove, on my own as though I had just gotten used to being alone but on one level it is not something we are meant to 'get used to' because feeling alone in life really is no way to go through life. What is the point of it all if we can't actually be there for someone else? Since I began going to festivals about nine years ago, I started connecting with quite a few people of various ages, a handful I'd keep in touch with but in a sense, often, it seems as though people hang out together so they don't have to feel their inner turmoil. It seems as though the biggest struggle people face is their connection with themself because that connection to self needs to be solid in order to have an authentic connection with someone else.

Where does one go to connect with their authentic self? We truly need more places where one can go to do this deeper inner exploration and find that contentment with oneself which allows one to step out in life and share your wisdom and knowledge freely and effortlessly wherever you go. Fundamentally, the way to happiness is through helping and being there for others.

If you would like to arrange a journey to see these lovely lands where waterfalls flow, please write me at :

My dad, brother and myself would always refer to the land as 'The Falls' which is interesting because it seems it's quite common for a waterfall to have a name like 'Dunn's River Falls' in Jamaica that you can climb up. It seems as though we forgot to name our falls. There is a tradition in Judaism where one does something in honour of someone who has passed on. I never recall that happening for my mom. Perhaps we should name them, 'Gloria's Falls' to remind us that the pure love she channeled is always flowing, mostly we just have to remove whatever is getting in the way of 'the flow' ~~~

Being in nature is a great way to do that especially when there is a spa cabin heated by a woodstove close by.

Thank you mom for being such a bright light in my life and I am sure in the lives of many.

Your mom always reminded me that you were watching over me (and my brother). I recall that being very comforting to hear.

This is one of the last places my mom would have seen while on her stay here on Earth ~ Puerto Angel, Oaxaca, Mexico. A good friend who always felt a deep connection with my mom had been on a journey down to these shores and she took this photo even though I had been there a number of times imagining just how remote it was all those years ago.

May the whole world feel as peaceful as this lovely scene where dear Gloria took some of her last steps.

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1 Comment

3 days ago

This is so touching . Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute to your beautiful mother. I am sure she is and always has been so proud of the kind hearted beautiful person you are. ❤️

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