Our mother, Gloria Jayne Thornton Aylen, passed peacefully in her sleep, at my home in San Diego, Sunday morning June 28, 2020. She was not alone. I was laying by her side as she started her journey. As her health had begun to fail and her ability to enjoy life became compromised, my brother Jeff and I brought her to California, April 28th. Our hopes of finding help for the severe pain she was suffering, after years of a very active life, and the consequences of old injuries, paid off. She again enjoyed being out in the yard, working on her tan, walking the neighborhood (with her walker), taking drives and cuddling up to her feline grandchildren. Being with her 2 kids was a highlight as well. It turned out to be a wonderful experience for us all to be together at this time.
Mom was born in Puyallup, Washington, April 22, 1930. She was the youngest of four to Charles and Ruth Thornton. She was an active child with her sisters as her best friends. Always staying busy, Mom worked in the Puyallup Laundry during WW2 alongside her Mother and Sister’s. Tending to the laundry needs of the Troops from Fort Lewis, McChord Field, and Camp Murray. Mom was really proud of that and actually reminisced about those days just prior to her passing.
She graduated Puyallup High School in 1948. A summer of fun followed and she met local boy Donald (Donnie) Aylen. A year later they were married on June 18th. A son, Jeffrey Charles followed in 1952 and a daughter, Heidi Jan in 1955. Parenting was a full time job but Mom had her sister, Barbara and her 3 young boys to tag team with along with sister in law, Patricia with her 2 kids...Fun times for us.
She was always there for family, friends and Jeff and I. Mom helped out Dad at Aylen’s Union 76 and later Aylen’s Richfield (Arco). She even found the time to start a bowling team at The Daffodil Bowl with her Sister in Law, Patricia in the early 50’s. Jeff and I always in tow. Dad would eventually sponsor her team. Family and friends joining throughout the years made for many LONG Wednesday lunches. When she wasn’t working or bowling, she and a friend, sister, or sister in law, or a combination of all would load the kids and head off to the ocean for a week of playing on the beaches and soaking up the sun. Going to the lakes around Puyallup was also common.
From the early 60’s she did seasonal work at the Puyallup Fair for Effie Jacobs Burgers (more like a party than a job). After the Fair fire in 1970 she gave up the smoke and grease of the burger stands. Years later she worked as Hostess at Antoine’s Farmhouse for many seasons. During the late 70’s she worked demonstrating food products at grocery stores throughout the area. During the 80’s she worked at Elvin’s Department Store. A fun job working with a best friend, Vi (who was also her boss and on her bowling team). Mom continued to Bowl every Wednesday up until 1986 which she then replaced with skiing until she fell and fractured her pelvis in 2001. She had always wanted to ride in a toboggan and though hurting, was happy and excited to get her wish. After Elvin’s closed in 91, she started volunteering at the Pantages and Broadway Theaters in Tacoma. She loved helping folks to their seats, seeing the shows and, at times, meeting the performers! That lasted over 20 years until 2012. She also volunteered during the elections and became active in her HOA at Twin Cedars, where she and Dad moved in 2010.
Once her chicks left the nest and Dad retired, they travelled extensively. They loved traveling with Dad’s English cousins along with his brother and wife. Their trips were known as the Beetle Tours which included the UK, Europe, sailing in Tahiti, Tonga, and the British Virgin Is. Mom and Dad also went throughout the US, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Boating to Alaska with Dads brother, Bob and wife Patricia. They loved Cruises as well. Mazatlan, Palm Springs and the Mt. Bachelor area were favorites, so they got a timeshare. Years of adventures followed. As their Daughter, I loved joining them on any leg of their journey and always welcomed them to San Diego, which also became an annual retreat.
Mom always made life full and active for our immediate and extended family, as well as our friends, who were always welcome in our home and adventures. Our home was like a second home to several of our friends, and they were often included on ski, ocean, and boating trips with our family. Our friends often came over when Jeff and I moved away just to visit with Mom and Dad. They felt appreciated as peers, not just kids.
Slowing down the last couple years Mom still appreciated a great trip to Northern California with her kids and couple times to San Diego. She loved her garden and being outside in the Sun. I remember calling for her last Summer, she was busy in the garden at 8 PM! She always had that smile, laugh and quick wit. I loved the twinkle in her eye when feeling mischievous. Mom also loved Mt. Rainer. After 90 years, she would still look for it daily. Always commenting on how beautiful it is. We were fortunate to grow up with a mountain view and she never ever took the beauty of the Northwest, for granted.
It was our wish to bring Mom back home. Her time had come, somewhat suddenly and she was ready to go and be with her Donnie. She kept asking about him in the last few weeks of her life. She was missing him more and more until she finally let go.
We like to think they are together with all their dear friends and families, continuing the party, laughter and having the best of times, as they did in life. Thanks Mom for all the magic and amazing life adventures filled with your humor, wit, and love. You will be missed by us all who had the great fortune to share our lives with yours. Say Hi to Dad and enjoy your Beetle Tours. We LOVE you.
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