Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Goodbye Wave

Toodle-Pip... Ta-Tah...See you Next Time!

One of my fondest memories from childhood days is of my grandparents waving us goodbye from the top of their porch steps. Their arms linked and smiling proudly, whether it was the Sunday family lunch gathering or just a random 'pop by' – it didn't matter the reason for the visit or how long we were there for. Waving us off was just one of those habitual heart-felt routines that Grammy 'n' Pop did when it came time to seal the deal and bid us farewell.

Of course that's after the obligatory round of goodbye kisses, hugs and hair ruffling that seemed to go on forever, before we finally got to bundle ourselves into the car for the ride home.

And I remember too, if we turned round at any stage during the departure, as mum or dad manoeuvred the car, that they would still be stood there, happily waving and watching for our return waves through the back window. Then, as we slowly ebbed away out of view, they'd both sing out in perfect unison:

Bye, bye....LOVE YOU!”

I sometimes wondered, after we had gone, how long they might have remained standing there! Waving away... clinging on to happy times in a now empty driveway. Lovely too, was that even after the granddads were gone, both my grandmothers continued the waving tradition alone, never missing a beat. As if this treasured practice kept the family love bound and sacred forever.

I was too young to realise then, but it was likely that this cherished ritual was the final thrust in my grandparent's campaign to squeeze out as much valuable 'together' time as they possibly could.

I wish now, in hindsight, that I had waved much, much harder.

Elderly waving goodbye to their Carers
Bye-bye for now, Dot!

But, as it delightfully turns out, my grandparents were not the only 'wavers' I would ever have the pleasure of!

Thanks to my recent adventures in Aged-Care and visiting elderly adults in their own homes... I have been fortunate to encounter clients on my travels who also insist on a similar performance when its time to say goodbye. In fact some of my clients even go so far as to walk me right out to my car! Old habits die hard and chatting all the way, we discuss the cat's weepy eye, admire the azaleas and analyse the weather as we go.

Unfortunately, for some of my less sprightly Seniors who have forgotten that their mobility is not as reliable as it once was, I then have to turn round and walk (or wheel) them back inside again!

The thought of driving off and leaving a wobbly pensioner on the footpath clinging to their letterbox just doesn't bear thinking about. So I don't mind in the slightest having to spend a bit more time escorting them back to their front doors again.

Besides, it's a nice little moment that I know will bring a significant amount of joy to someone else's day. And to be honest, I consider it a compliment that it feels so natural for them to think of me wave-worthy in the first place.

"Off we go... let's get you back inside again, Mr Gadabout!"

Assisting elderly people to be mobile
Hop on and I'll wheel you in, Mr G !

Why only today, one of my regular ladies whom I've worked with for a couple of years now, makes it her business to accompany me out onto her front verandah where she likes to wait, waving goodbye, as I hop into my car.

Having watched her, sadly, become more and more absent-minded (recently diagnosed with early-stage Dementia), to her it's the most normal thing in the world to see me off. The same as she would after a visit from any close friend or family member - except that I am neither.

"I'll see you off, dear. And then I'll put Walt's dinner on”.

In my rear-view mirror I see her surveying the rosebushes for dead-heads as she continues her well-rehearsed wave, leaning on the rail for support and so she stays in my sights. Then, just as I reach the end of her drive and I do my return wave back, she looks up at that last second when I've straightened up and am about to disappear from her view.

A final flourish with her wrist finishes it all off!

And it's funny... as I pause for a brief moment to watch her go back inside to peel the spuds for tea (her husband Walter,
actually died 12 years ago), I'm struck with nostalgic thoughts of childhood family times and the 'warm fuzzy' ghosts of Wavers past.

So unexpected are the feelings in fact, that I find I have to stop myself from the involuntary urge to let slip a “Bye-bye....LOVE YOU!”