The Long Goodbye

February 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Posted in Family | 17 Comments
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There are many ways of leaving, and there are many ways of saying goodbye.

You couldn’t count the goodbyes in your life. Most will have been for short periods: “’bye”, as you walk out the door for a short trip; “See you again soon” as a friend leaves for a short time; the longer separation, with tears and promises to keep in touch. Then the goodbye where you know it is unlikely you will see each other again – either “Good riddance!” as you leave a bad relationship, or sorrowful  tears as a friendship ends.

There are the casual goodbyes, the relieved goodbyes; those which are cheerful and those which are sad; and there are goodbyes which are left unsaid.

But the hardest goodbye of all, the one you dread the most, that will leave you bereft of a loved one forever, is the final one. But even here, there are differences.

Is it more difficult to be with a loved one at the end; to talk together, at least for a time, knowing the goodbye, though not spoken, is mutually understood? Or is it harder when the farewell is sudden, wrenching someone from you in an instant; said after the spirit has left a vibrant body that now lies in a funeral home? One at least has time to come to terms with the first.

The goodbye I have been saying for months now is drawn out and difficult; the leaving, long and uncertain, and not even understood by the one who is going. It is saying goodbye bit by bit, as his mind deteriorates more and more, as memory becomes confused and then fades.

It is a hard thing to see the body of a loved one become more and more an empty shell instead of the strong, intelligent, creative and caring man you knew. You wonder why, at 90, he clings to life, is positive about life, even as his mind progressively loses the ability to live it.

You wonder how much longer will this goodbye take? How long before the body follows the mind to oblivion? You don’t know that, but what you do know is that, no matter how long and difficult it is, you will always hold in your heart the man he once was.

You will remember his love, his hard work and struggle for his family; you will remember his positive outlook and his fighting spirit. He will be, as he always has been, your inspiration. You will always love him, no matter how long the goodbye.

To my beloved father. You will always be my inspiration.









(c) Linda Visman


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  1. Beautifully written, Linda. My sincerest condolences. 2012 seems to be a year our older generation have decided to choose for their heavenly exits. I wonder if in their wisdom of many decades, they know something we don’t…

    • Alfred, I think I am more fortunate than you have been At least I can see Dad and know that there is still part of him there, at least for now. My brothers, sisters and I are also fortunate that Dad’s kept his positie outlook and his determination to be happy; he has not gone down the road of anger, and he seems to manage his frustration. He is still a wonderful man.

  2. Beautiful, Linda. Thank you so much for directing me to your post. I am so sorry that you have had to experience this as well. It’s so very painful and not something everyone understands. Thank you for this tribute to YOUR dear father. 🙂

    • Thank you Sarah – your own post was beautifully written and moving. What we always have to be aware of is to respect them and allow them their dignity wherever we can. Dad makes it pretty easy to do that.

  3. Dear Linda,

    I read your article the other night but didn’t get a chance to comment. You are lucky you still have him. I still have my Mum so I’m lucky there but lost Dad in 1997,

    • Yes, Debbie. We are lucky to still have him, as he is still an inspiration. Mum died almost 18 years ago, and Dad has missed her all that time, as we have too.

  4. I agree that it’s hard to watch his deterioration. He has given me very many tangible and intangible gifts over the years: the love of reading is but one of them.

    I heard an interview with 91 year old PD James, who is still writing. She said that as she ages, she has tried to focus on the things she can do, rather than the things she can’t.

    Given she’s from the same generation as Grandad, maybe that’s where he gets his positive attitude from.

    It’s a very admirable trait.

    • Sounds like PD James has the same outlook as Dad indeed, Pete. There will be a lot of us who will miss him, won’t there!

  5. […] You may also like to read this previous post The Long Goodbye […]

  6. My husband and I I both very lucky to have both our parents still with us. Alzheimers is so difficult on everyone. I watched my Nan slowly deteriorate. The blank looks when she didn’t know us. The fear in her eyes when she did but knew all too well what was happening as she’d seen it happen to her sister a few years earlier. It broke my Mum’s heart when she had to put her in a nursing home but she needed the care and we visited frequently. Perhaps deep in her mind she knew we were there and how much she was loved – I hope so. Your are lucky to have such a wonderful father and he, wonderful caring children. Unfortunately, too many people put relatives into care and hardly ever visit. And you have written a beautiful piece!

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, it is very difficultfor the family. Dad is now weaker and more advanced in the dementia, but still has that wonderful spirit that inspires everyone.

  7. […] You may also like to read this previous post The Long Goodbye […]

  8. […] most viewed and commented on post was The Long Goodbye, which really struck a chord for many […]

  9. Very touching and beautiful, Linda. 🙂

    • Thanks Margaret. My wonderful dad passed away in June 5 weeks after he broke his hip in a fall. He only remembered us, but nothing else, but he was positive until the end.

  10. I was drawn to this post, Linda, because of the title. Mother made a quick exit in 2014 and Daddy years earlier. Now my second mother, Aunt Ruthie, is fading away with dementia which we noticed beginning at least 8 years ago. Her pacemaker is ticking down too, and the doctor is subtly recommending not to replace it because she is so fragile and may not survive the operation without contracting an infection. Time is ticking away and I realize that I must make a trip to Pennsylvania to see her very soon. I hope she still recognizes me. I am happy your Dad remembered you all until the very end.

    • It is difficult indeed, Marian, when one you love loses their memory, their old self and those they have loved.
      I hope your Aunt Ruthie is happy for her last period of time left & that you can get to see her at least one more time.

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