A Letter to My Mother, All the Way In Heaven
Hello, dear readers. Today's post is a tribute to Gayle DeLong, by her oldest Jennifer Rose. Gayle died on January 5 of 2022, after a battle with breast cancer. Jenny wrote a terrific book called "It's Not a Perfect World, But I'll Take It." Surely this tribute is another chapter in the journey of a young adult with autism that no one wanted to write. Please join us in sending care and comfort to Jenny and her little sister Flora, who also has autism, and who may be struggling to understand the meaning of death and loss. Their Dad, Jonathan Rose, has been a stalwart beacon of strength for Gayle and his daughters. Let's not forget him in our prayers. Jenny created a music playlist for her Mom - you can access it here.
By Jennifer Rose
Are you there, Mom? It’s me, Jenny. Man, oh man, I’ve got so much to say, and yet, I honestly have no idea what to say to you. Our relationship was…complicated, and while we’d sometimes fight as mother and daughter would, you were my mother and at the end of the day, I still loved you. No matter what happened, all I wanted was to see you happy. Of course, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
It hasn’t been 24 hours, and already I’m streaming a grief playlist in your honour. Right now, I’m streaming “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. Remember how impressed you were at Flora, our daughter/sister that she was listening to classical music along with watching Nick Jr? (Okay, we could do without about 1,000 plays of the tape of Paul McCartney as a drugged-out 50-year-old, but that’s another story.)
But enough about me. I loved you, because you took care of me from birth, and nursed me back to health when I was sick, and believe me, I was sick quite a bit! Because, hey, that’s what mothers do. And that’s not even getting to the time you got me into a trip to Israel, and all you said was “Isn’t there another trip?” when I was booted out of one trip. Seriously, even Grandpa said more words at my first birthday, and he all-too-well lived up to the stereotype of Jewish husbands not talking a lot.
Somedays I just feel like I want to quit, and just be normal for a bit. Then I realize that my family isn’t, and never will be, normal. But hey, we’re handling everything the best we can. Because you know what? We’re not normal. We’re much, much better than normal. We are resilient. And we’re so because we had you for a mother.
Through your work through the Children’s Health Defense, with the great Robert Kennedy Jr., you helped children have a bright, healthy future. To quote actress Jane Fonda, Robert Kennedy “has the gift of telling vivid stories that explain how and why power is made to yield.” He has used his gift to help countless lives, whether through his environmental or autism work. It’s only natural that such an amazing man would work with you, my equally amazing mother.
I’ll have to admit, like any 16-year-old girl, sometimes I could get self-conscious about how “pretty” my life was, but I was struggling to find myself in an environment that was either over- or under-whelming. As a child of two worlds, so to speak, neither severely handicapped nor high-functioning enough to pass as fully “neurotypical”, it was always hard for me to fit in. Feeling alone, I would often escape into my own fantasy worlds, whether through pop culture or my own imagination. Even today, I’m trying to “find myself.” But, I can reassure you, someday I will be found.
When I found out you were terminally sick this Christmas, all I wanted was for you to be well and happy. That’s why I pitched in with Dad to help however I could. Seriously, if Stephen Merchant- my favorite actor and comedian and current “special interest”- had come up to my doorstep for Christmas dinner with Dad and me, I would’ve turned it down if it meant you got better. Holidays like Mother’s Day & Christmas won’t be the same without you. You were an absolutely beautiful soul, and no matter what, you’ll always be my mother.
Jenny, I just learned of your mom's passing. I collaborated with her on some projects that have not yet born fruit. She was such a special person. Amazing in many ways. I am so sorry for your loss and humanity's loss.
Posted by: Josh Guetzkow | May 16, 2022 at 05:45 AM
Jenny your writing is beautiful, like you. Sending you love and prayer during this difficult time.
Posted by: Lori Sica | January 12, 2022 at 10:39 AM
I just learned of your Mon’s passing today. I am so sorry to hear of this tragic news. My heart hurts at the loss of my friend and for you, your sister Flora and for your Dad Jonathan.
Gayle/your Mom taught me so much, and was a trusted confidante and a caring friend. Most of all she loved her family deeply and would move mountains for her daughters.
I will keep you all in my prayers.
Posted by: ChrissyD | January 10, 2022 at 06:13 PM
Thank you for letting me see into your world. You writing is so beautiful . Just know that even in the pain and sorrow , God’s comfort will be there today and tomorrow .
Posted by: Yuklin Ling | January 09, 2022 at 10:21 AM
Thank you for describing /sharing a very personal family situation .
The death of someone close is a hard and sore parting .
The death of someone close is still pretty much" a big taboo area" for some people , including health and social care professionals ? It's on the list of "Training Deficiencies! "
Your mum sounds like a really good one ,mine too!
With sincere sympathy in your grief . what you have been fortunate to have, no one can take from you !
My Mother -Calum Kennedy -YouTube
Tom Walker - For Those Who Can't Be Here [ Visuliser ] YouTube
Posted by: Morag Lyons | January 09, 2022 at 06:32 AM
Jennifer, I'm so sorry about your loss. You've written a beautiful letter and made a beautiful tribute video about your amazing mom, and I hope it inspires all the moms who work every day to do what your mom did. You've put into words the things other people may not be able to say. Thank you.
Posted by: TOB | January 09, 2022 at 05:52 AM
What a thoughtful, wonderful letter you’ve written, Jennifer. Your words will inspire mothers (grandmothers too) everywhere to keep on keeping on. Motherhood is a special kind of privilege. I’m glad that your mom had the privilege to be in that relationship with you and Flora.
May God watch over you and your family always.
Posted by: MaryAnne Oller | January 08, 2022 at 03:22 PM
What a beautiful tribute to your mom! Thank you forsharing this
Posted by: Maureen McDonnell | January 08, 2022 at 01:34 PM
Jenny, Your tribute to your dear mom is so beautifully written.
Anyone who has the privilege to know you or read your book "It's Not a Perfect World, but I'll Take it", would agree what a special woman you are and how you also have so many of your mom's characteristics that made her unique.
Embrace all those amazing qualities, Jenny, and please keep on writing!
Posted by: Kimberle Strasser | January 08, 2022 at 01:32 PM
Dear Jenny, Such a beautiful letter, so many interesting thoughts. People like your mom are the real heroes of our time. May their names be engraved in white marble . on the wall of the museum of autism, That building will come one day. There are many heroes, of the autism wars . The people who love truth and happiness. I think your mom would say to you, " Take care of your sister"
God bless both the two of you and your father. With love - Cherry Misra , New Delhi
Posted by: Cherry Misra | January 08, 2022 at 01:10 PM
Lovely and lively describes your all! I’m sorry for your loss.
Posted by: False Scientists | January 08, 2022 at 12:17 PM
Beautiful! You’re an amazing writer! So very sorry for the loss of your mother! Her light is obviously shining through you!
Posted by: annie | January 08, 2022 at 11:56 AM
Jenny - thank you for sharing this. I feel privileged for having known your mom. Kim
Posted by: Kim Mack Rosenberg | January 08, 2022 at 11:15 AM
RFK was fortunate to have worked with your mom, she was amazing, and so are you. Thank you for writing.
Posted by: drymeadow | January 08, 2022 at 09:34 AM
Thank you Jenny for this very touching tribute. John
Posted by: John Stone | January 08, 2022 at 08:44 AM
Loved ones never leave us, a lovely letter to your mum.
Pharma For Prison
Posted by: Angus Files | January 08, 2022 at 08:38 AM
This is a beautiful tribute to your mother, Jennifer. She would be proud.
Posted by: Valerae Hurley | January 08, 2022 at 08:07 AM