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Patient Stories

Years Later, Appreciation Remains for Compassionate Care at Kaplan

Diana Reintges and Bobby Seibel saw the world together: Walking along the Great Wall in China, riding camels in Morocco, and a trip to Ukraine that showed off their care-free relationship.

“We rounded a corner in a square in Kiev, and there was a street vendor with a puppet, playing ‘Maybelline’ by Chuck Berry on a CD player,” fondly recalls Diana. “I’m not sure he knew the songs he was playing, but it was a collection of classic American rock-n-roll. Bobby had a great singing voice, so he started singing along. And before long, here were these two crazy Americans belting out ‘Johnny Be Good’ and doing the Twist.”

These adventures mark just a few memories of what Diana describes as a "wild chapter" in her life. This chapter unfolded when she and Bobby were in their 60s, but their shared story began 44 years earlier, when they had dated in high school.

After graduation, life led them down separate paths. Diana built a family on the North Shore, while Bobby pursued a career in comedy, performing in local venues like the Kowloon and Prince Pizzeria, and also doing stints aboard cruise ships and in Atlantic City.

They reconnected after Diana’s husband Paul died in 2004. Bobby happened to be walking by Diana’s childhood home in Salem and decided to leave his phone number with her parents, who still lived there. When Diana called, a long dormant friendship rekindled into a beautiful romance.

The two spent an amazing decade together until, in 2015, Bobby received a cancer diagnosis. Bobby spent time at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. But the prognosis was not good. Treatment options were exhausted, and a friend recommended they call Care Dimensions. Bobby was taken to the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers.

Hospice Aide Ivan Offers Compassionate Touch

During Bobby’s week at Kaplan, Diana seldom left his side. Private suites allowed her to essentially move in, sleeping on a pull-out sofa next to Bobby’s bed.

Nine years later, one name has stuck with her: hospice aide Ivan Gomez.

“Ivan was gentle. He was compassionate. He was thorough,” remembers Diana. “He was just the perfect person to be caring for Bobby, and he was so sweet to me too. Little things, like letting me know when there were cookies by the nurses’ station, or making sure that classical music was always playing on the TV to keep the room calm.”

Despite Bobby's limited alertness, Ivan made sure the French doors were opened daily, allowing the garden's smells and sounds to fill the room. Friends visited throughout the week, sharing memories and farewells in a setting that felt more like home than a medical facility.

“I’ll never forget the morning Bobby died. I was holding him in my arms, and I told him ‘If you're tired and you feel you have to go, you just go.’ I told him I would be OK. He pursed his lips and he blew his last breath into my mouth... And then he was gone.

“It was a good death, it really was. They kept him out of pain. And everyone was just so kind to us, especially Ivan. It meant so much.”

Grief Support & Giving Back

In the aftermath of Bobby's death, Diana was consumed with grief.

“When Bobby died, I really felt like I didn’t want to live any longer,” said Diana. “I was like that for a few months, when someone finally convinced me to call for support.”

She contacted the Care Dimensions bereavement team. Therapy sessions were set up with Patrice DePasquale, then a grief counselor and now the Director of Bereavement Services.

“Patrice was wonderful. She understood the feelings I was having. And she got me to a place where I wanted to live again. She probably saved my life.”

Now in her 80s, Diana is enjoying time with friends and family (including 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren).

Over the years, she has made donations to Care Dimensions to support the mission. Recently, she purchased a commemorative brick for Bobby, which was placed in the Garden of Remembrance outside the Kaplan House.

“In addition to remembering Bobby, I wanted to help support the mission; to do what I can make sure that others receive the kind of quality care we got.

“At the same time, I want to make sure the team there, people like Ivan and Patrice, know how much they’re appreciated. They are really making a difference for people like me.”

Additional Stories

Family Matters: Devoted Siblings Thankful for Mom’s Hospice Care

A grateful family appreciates the dignity and support that their mother received during nine months of hospice care at home.

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Gratitude Endures Years After Wife’s Hospice Care

Mark Palmer never forgot the lessons he learned from his wife’s end-of-life journey on hospice and the support he received while helping his children deal with their grief.

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Peace & Comfort at Care Dimensions Hospice House for US Navy Veteran and Family

The Care Dimensions Hospice House is a peaceful place offering 24/7 clinical support for the patient. That allows families to spend quality time with their loved one.

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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore,  has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.

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