The Long Goodbye*

*Originally posted 9/26/07 here, shortly after Mom moved in with me in Kerrville.

Every morning, Mother sees me to the garage door with a quick kiss and hug. I open the garage door, get in the car, and back out into the driveway, to find Mother waiting at the end of the sidewalk beside the garage so she can wave goodbye to me. I wave back.

She then moves out of sight, going back to the front door. I back down the driveway, back into the street, and then begin driving away, as she stands in the open front doorway, waving goodbye some more. I wave some more.

Satisfied that she has seen me safely on my way, she finally closes the front door and goes back to watching television. Until I come home mid-day. Then when lunch is over, and I have to leave again to go back to work, we do it all over again.



Dietert Center

The Dietert Center in Kerrville, Texas

Mother moved in with me in the summer of 2007. After the move, she wouldn’t drive anymore because she was afraid she might get lost. In Kerrville, Texas. It was probably a good thing that she was off the road.

This left me as her only social connection, outside of infrequent visits from my niece. Mother wanted me to come home for lunch every day, and would call my cell phone if I was more than 10 minutes later coming home that she thought I ought to be. To say I felt smothered is an understatement.

Fortunately, Kerrville has The Dietert Center. They have lots of programs for retired people, but the one that was a lifesaver for me was The Take 5 Club, which offered adult day services to provide respite for caregivers. She wasn’t having any of it. The Program Director was kind enough to visit our home in an effort to convince her to give it a try. I finally had to bully her into going the first day, promising that I would stay nearby and that she need only try it, not commit to it.

Below is the e-mail I sent to the Dementia Rescue Yahoo group (more on that in a future post) after that first visit.


When we got there, we were the first ones, and when people began arriving, Mother was pleasant, but her body language was definitely “closed”.  I hung around in an adjoining room for about an hour, then peeked and she seemed much more at ease and the look on her face indicated she was enjoying herself.
So, I told her that I was going to run a couple of errands, and she confirmed I would be back, but did not seem alarmed at all that I was leaving.  I went on back to work, and picked her up at 2 p.m, which is when the group ended, and she seemed to have had a good time.
When the coordinator said, “See you next week!”, Mom said, “OK”, and when she got into the car, she didn’t say anything about being glad that was over and she didn’t have to go back.  I asked her about lunch, which she had enjoyed, and about the rabbit that the pet therapy guy had brought – ‘Bennie, the Bunny’ – and she talked about that, too.
I was afraid to ask about her going next week.  I think I’ll wait until the weekend to mention it again.
Mom at the Dietert Center – 2/18/08
She attended three days a week for almost a year, before we moved to Florida that fall. Not only was it a great program and a great relief for me that she had other people to interact with, but it also made convincing her to go to the program I eventually found in Florida a little easier.
Thank you, Dietert Center!