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“Thank You for Enabling Me to Succeed at Having Mom Living At Home with Us”

On January 27, I attended a beautiful Celebration of the Life of Irene (Renie) Vitak, my friend Michael Cockey’s mother. I believe it was five or six years ago that I first met Michael and his partner Ron, and Michael’s wonderful mom at Epworth United Methodist Church. During his mother’s service, Michael thanked the nurses and caregivers at the Gull House and Beebe Healthcare. Michael has granted me the opportunity to share some of what he said at Renie’s Celebration of Life.

“Thank you everyone for being here today to remember my mother. Thank you to my Rehoboth community of support and love, the people who helped in caring for Mom from Gull House and the wonderful nursing staff at Beebe. What would we do without you? All of you… All of you, please know who you are to me. This includes the many friends I have made since living here. I really have a beautiful family, and I have felt very loved and supported, especially since Ron’s passing and now with the passing of my wonderful mom, who most of you know as Renie.

“We spent some really good times together with Ron, who was a great support to me in caring for mom and eventually bringing her to live with us. Ron teased her continually and I think you can see that from the photos, threatening to tickle her, the bantering back and forth that they did. She could throw some zingers at him all the while giggling, and he would say, ‘Ooold Laaady!’

“When Ron passed away so suddenly one morning nearly three years ago, I picked Mom up that afternoon from Gull House, the amazing adult day care program she attended for six years. When I told her he was gone, she sat by me in the car and said, ‘I know how you feel.’ And I said, ‘I know you do, but I never knew how you felt when Dad suddenly died until right now.’ My mother taught me a lot about living, she tried anyway!”

Michael and I met for lunch several weeks after his Mom’s service and he shared with me, “The biggest thing that Gull House did for me was to enable me – as an only child - to be successful at having Mom living at home with us and then alone with me after Ron died. There is a genuinely caring staff at the Gull House. They were always so playful with mom. They were able to notice things and intervene before something became more serious. The support and respite the staff of the Gull House provided to me cannot be overstated.

“Together they created a team with their different personalities, training, and strengths. Whether it was Ericka’s playful teasing of Mom at the front door, Amy’s warm encouragement, Vera’s kind attentiveness on many trips to the rest room, Adam’s engaging creativity, and Terry’s smiling guitar playing, everything was combined to create a warm, inviting environment for people who in one way or another were being challenged at times to their limits. The efficient nursing staff presence provided by Terry and Beth assured me that Mom was being observed for changes that more than once alerted me to a need for medical attention. The daily business of operating the facility and maintaining the caring family atmosphere was sensitively orchestrated by Kathleen and Karen. For all this and much more I will always be grateful.”

Michael celebrated the excellent care the team at Gull House provided for his mother at their Rehoboth Beach location, as they were making preparations to move to their new, expanded facility in Lewes. “I wanted to say thank you to everyone at Gull House who my mother and I came to know and love. I wish everyone there all my best as they move to their new location and in their mission to give support to clients and those who care for them at home. Their great and remarkable strength is that they are able to form authentic and individualized relationships with the people they care for and assist. They let people know there are options for not going it alone. I look forward to helping them celebrate their grand opening in Lewes.”

Beebe Healthcare’s Gull House is a structured and supervised Adult Day Care program designed for functionally impaired persons who are 60 years of age or older. The primary goals are to avoid or forestall long term care treatment; to support or improve social, mental, emotional, and physical levels of functioning; to enhance the quality of life; and to provide respite to families and caregivers.

As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts to Beebe Healthcare, large or small, are tax-deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Gifts can be designated to specific areas such as the Gull House. To make a gift or to learn more about Celebrate Excellent Care, go online to or contact the Beebe Medical Foundation at (302) 644-2900 or email to

See an earlier story done on Renie and Michael here.