She experienced great love and horrific tragedies, but she never lost her almost childlike optimism," said Anderson Cooper

By Natalie Stone
June 17, 2020 09:06 PM
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Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
Jim Spellman/WireImage

Anderson Cooper is remembering his late mother on the one-year anniversary of her death.

On Wednesday, the CNN host paid tribute to Gloria Vanderbilt, who died June 17, 2019, of cancer at the age of 95.

"My mom, @gloriavanderbilt, died one year ago today," Cooper captioned a photo of Vanderbilt sitting next to an easel. 

Although she physically is no longer here, Cooper said "she is alive in my heart and in the hearts of all who knew her and loved her."

"She had an extraordinary and indomitable spirit, grit, determination, passion, and vulnerability. She experienced great love and horrific tragedies, but she never lost her almost childlike optimism; her openness to the world around her. She chose to remain vulnerable," he continued. 

"Others would have closed off their hearts, protected themselves. My mom wanted to see and hear and feel everything....and that is exactly what she did," said Cooper. "Bravo, Mom, Bravo. @gloriavanderbiltstudio @gloriavanderbilt (photo credit @joshgaddy)."

The journalist further celebrated his mother's life in a series of photos and videos in his Instagram Story.

"My mom @gloriavanderbilt died one year ago today," he wrote alongside a photo of his mother holding Cooper as an infant.

"She lived an epic life as a wife, a mom, a lover, an actress, a designer, a writer ...." he wrote atop a black-and-white portrait of Vanderbilt.

He continued alongside the photo of Vanderbilt with one of her artworks: ".....and an artist. When she was told she was going to die in a matter of days, she said, 'well, it's like that old song says, 'show me the way to get out of this world, because that's where everything is.'"

Anderson Cooper's Instagram Story
Anderson Cooper/instagram
Anderson Cooper's Instagram Story
Anderson Cooper/instagram
Anderson Cooper's Instagram Story
Anderson Cooper/instagram

Cooper then shared two videos of Vanderbilt giggling while lying in a hospital bed.

"Minutes later she said something funny, and we both started giggling. That's when I discovered where my silly giggle comes from," he said. "It was her giggle all along."

He concluded the Instagram Story tributes with an image of his hand in Vanderbilt's, writing, "In the end. When everything else is taken away. There is only love."

Anderson Cooper's Instagram Story
Anderson Cooper/instagram
Anderson Cooper's Instagram Story
Anderson Cooper/instagram

Last year, Cooper confirmed Vanderbilt's death on CNN.

“Earlier this month, we had to take her to the hospital. That’s where we learned she had very advanced cancer in her stomach and that it had spread," he said in a CNN obituary. "When the doctor told her she had cancer, she was silent for a while, and then she said, ‘Well, it’s like that old song: Show me the way to get out of this world, because that’s where everything is.’”

CNN reported that she died in her Manhattan home with friends and family at her side.

“Love is what she believed in more than anything,” Cooper said. He continued, “Gloria Vanderbilt died as she lived: on her own terms.”

Throughout her life, Vanderbilt made a name for herself as an actress, fashion designer, artist and author.

In 1963, Vanderbilt said ‘I do’ for the fourth time, marrying author and screenwriter Wyatt Emory Cooper; she later gave birth to sons Carter (in 1965) and Anderson (in 1967). Cooper was 10 when his father died during open-heart surgery at 50; his older brother died by suicide in 1988 at 23.

Speaking with PEOPLE earlier this month, Cooper opened up about how his mother helped him make the most important decision in his life: to become a dad.

Cooper recalled what it was like telling Vanderbilt he wanted to have a baby.

"She was thrilled," said the new dad. "I told her maybe two weeks before she died. When she started to get ill, it was very quick. [Son Wyatt Morgan, 6 weeks] was just an idea in my head and a desire — but I thought, 'This is the time to tell her.' "

He continued, "We had this incredible last few weeks of her life where we spent every day together, just talking and watching TV, listening to music, laughing and telling stories. She said instantly, 'Of course it's going to be a boy.' "

"I didn't say that I would name him after my dad, but she knew that's what it would be — and she knew that if it was a girl, she would be named after her," Cooper said.