How Do You Say Goodbye? Part 1

Nov 7, 2011 by


Joanne Marie Thesing Imbrogno

Part 1 | Part 2

How Do You Say Goodbye?

NOTE: Click audio player to hear “Better Day” or right click in Windows or control-click on a Mac on the word ‘Download’ for an mp3 of the song. Use the song as you see fit. I ask only that you credit it the following way if you post it, publish or record it somewhere: “Song and lyrics by Douglas Imbrogno,” It would be nice to hear back on how you used the song, especially if in memory of someone in your life or a friend’s life.

By Douglas Imbrogno | So, if my mother had not died from Alzheimer’s, she would have celebrated her 82nd birthday today. But she did die, in 2002, of this merciless affliction. Therein lies the explanation for the downloadable song you see above and a tale about her and her life in Part 2 of this post, coming tomorrow.

For I’m using the occasion of her birthday to release my song “Better Day” (from this CD) into the wilds of the Web as a free download. I’ve no hopes or illusions about doing this other than to share the song and her story with any of you whose families or friends have been touched — or are now being touched — by the slow fading away of a loved one from extreme dementia.

‘Touched,’ of course, is a wholly inadequate word when speaking of Alzheimer’s and its affect on families. ‘Slammed’ might be better. ‘Overwhelmed’? ‘Devastated’, certainly, and often. Tomorrow, I plan to reprint an article I originally wrote for the Charleston Gazette about my mother and our family’s journey through this disease. The piece is a sort of combined memorial, diary and guide to the only useful help I was able to find in coping with what happened.

After the piece was published, a number of people from across the region told me it was of help to them. So, maybe, in some small way, it may be of help to you, your family or friends in dealing with Alzheimer’s. Or, at the least, it will be a shout out to you that we’re all in this together and to hang in there.

As for the song, I hope it may be of service to someone else’s mother, sister, wife or grandma. (The song could also be adapted as a memorial for anyone, regardless of what ailment took them from this life.) The song came to be the week my mother died. I was sitting around my parent’s house a couple of days before my mother’s funeral. Her sister, my Aunt Pat, walked in and said: “You are going to sing a song at your mother’s funeral, I hope?”

Um … I, uh…

So, I set to the task, thinking about my mother finally being able and at last to move on. I played it on guitar at the service before she was interred and later recorded it in Charleston with other players.

“Better Day” features two of my most favorite West Virginia musicians: Bob Webb on cello and guitar and Mark Davis on hand-drum and other percussion, with me handling the vocals and another guitar. It may seem a little odd that a song about someone passing on from Alzheimers should end on such a lilting, upbeat, even vaguely calypso beat. But anyone who has watched a person dear to them languish in the end game of dementia will understand the wish for them to finally “dance away” to a better day, when they are finally free to go. I could easily visualize my mother’s exhausted spirit perking up, smiling and noting, ‘Ah, yes! Finally. Time to go!’ Then, waltzing off into whatever lay ahead.

“Better Day” By Douglas Imbrogno

Over the water, into the trees….
Up on the mountain, away on the breeze.
Into the heavens, into the air…
Release all your worries, release all your cares and…

Dance. Dance away…
To a better day.

Long has been the journey,
hard has been the road.
I wish that you had never had
to carry such a load.

Now that you are free to go,
now as you depart,
Here’s a wish I send you
from the bottom of our hearts…

Dance. Dance away…
To a better day.

Thank you for the gifts
you gave throughout your life.
As a sister, friend, a grandma,
As a mother and a wife.

All those seeds you planted,
All the life you raised,
Grows strong across this wide green earth …
‘May your heart be praised!’

As you dance!
As you dance away…
To a better day.

To a better day
To a better day
To a better day!

This is what we pray,
It’s time to slip away
Time to take yourself away

To a better day, now…
To a better day, yeah …
To a better …

Dance away! dance away!

Today’s the day
to dance away.
Dance away,
O, dance away,
Today’s the day
to slip away

To a better day, yeah,
To a better day, now, now …
To a better day.

Part 1 | Part 2

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  1. What a beautiful tribute for a beautiful lady. I believe I remember your piece in the paper; our family has also been “touched” (you’re right – completely inadequate word) by this disease. There is a certain comfort to be had in knowing others share your experience.

  2. admin

    Thank you, Jennifer. In the trenches, it can feel for a family like they are completely swamped. Blessings to you and yours.

  3. This is really beautiful.

  4. Cousin, Bev

    Dougali, You are so talented and I want to thank you for such a beautiful tribute to your mom. I’m sure she is smiling down upon you and all of your siblings, of course, while holding Du’s hand. Love you :)

  5. admin

    Thank you, Bev! Miss you guys. Dave and I are hoping to make it up this winter as we start rolling on some family history videos and “Push-a heem in the deetch” Italian grandma and grandpa stories. Love you back.

  6. admin

    Thank you, Mr. McComas.

  7. Katie Broxterman

    Doug, Listening to your song was my way of saying Happy Birthday MOM!!. I had my daughters and husband listen to it too because they never had a chance to meet her. When they saw the picture they all said your mom was beautiful. Thank you for this tribute to her. Mom and Dad are smiling from the heavens above.

    Love you big brother
    Lil Sis Katie

  8. admin

    Very cool thing you did, sis. Thanks.