"Episode 421: I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away (Part 1)"
Season 4, Episode 21
# in Series
Air date March 6, 1978
Episode Guide
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Written by Carole Raschella
Michael Raschella
Directed by William F. Claxton
Episode Chronology
Previous episode:
A Most Precious Gift
Next episode:
I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away Part 2

Just as Mary falls in love with newcomer Seth Barton, her eyesight begins to worsen. Charles takes her to an optometrist, but the news is not good: Mary's vision cannot be saved, and she will soon go blind.

In denial, Charles does not tell his daughter. One morning, she wakes up and finds to her horror she is completely blind. Mary becomes very bitter over her predicament and having to rely on others for basic needs.



  • In the scene where Mary is sitting in a chair and Caroline sits down to talk to her, it is shown that Caroline is wearing a bra. This episode is set in the late 1870's and bras were not invented until 1912.
  • Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls Kendall) and Linwood Boomer (Adam Kendall) spent some time at the Foundation for the Junior Blind to prepare for their new roles on the show. There was also a technician on the set of "Little House" who trained them to walk, behave and position their eyes the way that blind people would do.
  • The title of the two-part episode came from one of the residents of the Foundation for the Junior Blind told Melissa Sue Anderson and Linwood Boomer on their last day that she would be waving to them as they drove away.
  • In interviews, Melissa Sue Anderson admitted that she was terrified when she read the script for the two-part episode, because of the obvious challenges that were ahead for her character. Additionally, Melissa's first reaction was that the character of Mary Ingalls was going to be written off the show and that really upset her. However, Michael Landon told her, "This is going to be a great thing, Missy" and now Melissa acknowledges that he was absolutely right.


Dr. Burke (to Charles about Mary): I didn't know your daughter had scarlet fever, Mr. Ingalls.
Charles: Yeah, she had scarlet fever.
Dr. Burke: How bad was it?
Charles: It was bad, it was scarlet fever. What is it?
Dr. Burke: The scarlet fever damaged the eye nerves. Weakened them.
Charles: How long until she's better?
Dr. Burke: I'm afraid she won't get better. The condition only worsens. Mr. Ingalls, Mary is going blind.
Charles: There must be some mistake.
Dr. Burke: I'm afraid not. I wish there was some medicine or treatment that would help, but there just isn't.
Charles: There....some.....something. There must be something.
Dr. Burke: It would have to be in the nature of a miracle, beyond the skill or knowledge of a doctor.

Caroline (to Doc Baker about Mary): I don't know what to do anymore. She says she's a burden to us, and she hates it. I tell her it isn't true, but it just doesn't do any good.
Doc Baker: This might sound harsh, Caroline, but I think you're trying to do too much. She has to learn to do for herself, if she's to have any kind of life.
Charles: But she can't do for herself, Doc. We have to take care of her.
Doc Baker: Do too much and she'll retreat to bed, and she'll stay there. I haven't been trained in caring for the blind, and neither have you. She needs the help of people who have.
Charles: Well, where do we find those people?
Doc Baker: There's schools for the blind. The nearest and one of the best is in Burton, Iowa.
Caroline: That's so far away! No. She needs her family.
Doc Baker: Caroline, she's living in fear and resentment. With the proper help and training, she'll be a different person.
Charles: The doctor's right, Caroline. Can you contact them for us?
Doc Baker: Certainly. Believe me, Caroline, it's what's best for Mary.

Mary: I've never heard of any of those schools around here.
Caroline: It's not around here. It's in Iowa.
Mary: Yeah, I understand. You just want to get me out from underfoot.
Caroline: Mary, that's not true, and you know it.
Mary (starts crying): Then don't send me away. Please don't send me away, let me stay here! I don't want people looking at me, feeling sorry for me. Please let me stay, Ma. Please let me stay!
Caroline: Mary, I don't want to send you away, but if they can help you. You can't spend the rest of your life sitting in that chair!
Mary: WHY NOT? Why not? Why can't I just sit here? There's nothing for me to see. It's dark. No matter where I go, it's just darkness. You've already decided to send me, haven't you?
Caroline: Yes, we have.

Background Information

  • This is the 2nd and last Appareance of Marys Optometrist Dr.Burke.

External link

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A Most Precious Gift I'll Be Waving As You Drive Away (Part 2)