It’s been a busy fall and at some future point I will post updates about the great MAKE SURE IT’S ME and COMMUNITY STORIES events I’ve been hosting, as well as my fascinating (and sometimes funny) work with POWER PLAY. But today I mourn the loss of Gary Delong, my mother’s longtime boyfriend. He died yesterday after a terrifying six weeks during which he learned he had bladder cancer and succumbed quickly. His nephew Jim and I coordinated his care, doing all we could to minimize his pain. I send huge thanks to Jim and his family for their warm support at this moment of crisis and loss. I know they are a large and tightly knit clan and I have enjoyed learning more about the Delong family history, in spite of these sad circumstances. My love and respect goes out to them.
Mom and Gary were “an item” for almost 30 years. He taught me to drive my car with a trailer hitched to the back. He argued with me (and everyone) about politics. He attended my plays and always found thoughtful critiques to show me how closely he was paying attention. He could talk for hours with my husband about engineering and computers. And he was deeply in love with my mother, for which I was enormously happy and grateful. He was one of those guys who chose his own moment and his own way to say “I love you.” You would never get a holiday card from Gary, but you might find that a new generator mysteriously appeared in your garage. He wasn’t big on birthdays, but he knew my Mom got blue in the dark days of winter, so he would send her a bouquet of yellow flowers in late February or early March with a card that said, “Spring is coming!” He wasn’t quite sure how to help during the years when Mom was dying, partly because she was so independent. But he was steadfastly present and loving. Early on in their relationship, when I was still a twenty-something, I started calling Gary “Bear,” first as a teasing rhyme on his name, and then because he seemed to like it. It suited the Gary I knew: he could get angry at times, sure, and he was increasingly grizzly, but he was also a big, huggable, powerful man. I loved him and I will always cherish his memory.
Here are some pictures of Gary, with me at my wedding; with my dog Boris; and with my Mom. Enjoy them, and thank you for taking this moment to honor Gary with me.