Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The dignity of choice

I've told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Nana Kerr, 99 with Samuel 1 1/2

No.  My Mom is not dead.  She just wishes she was.

She has outlived three husbands.

She has outlived her three sisters.

She has outlived one of her daughters.

She has outlived all of her close friends save two.

She, according to her own statement misses in order - her husband Mac, her car and playing golf.

Her mind is still sharp.  She is still the best bridge player at Queen's Terrace.  She knows all the stuff she used to know - it just takes a little longer to retrieve the information.

Her body doesn't work the way she wants it to.

She was an athlete and a champion golfer, curler, swimmer and her sporting achievements are recorded in a Hall of Fame.

She is in pain.

She is lonely - although we visit often and my niece Elaine is a constant presence and enormous source of loving support.

She loves her grandchildren - Mackenzie, Wesley, Eli, Gabriel and Samuel.

She revels in their growth and love.

She regrets that she won't see them grow to young men but has left each a legacy that will long outlive her corporeal presence.

She is depressed.

She has had two heart attacks in the past two months.

She once said that when she went she wanted to go with a massive cardiac arrest but after the first one she delightfully commented that she'd changed her mind about that because it hurt too much!

Her first comment when I visit, after expressing genuine joy at seeing me, is that she wants to die.

She doesn't understand why her powerful faith and belief seem to bar her from joining her departed loved ones.

She commands that we not grieve for her when her wish is granted.

She wants a party.

Her situation, and those of others with whom I am familiar, led me to join the Dying with Dignity movement.

We live our lives with a fundamental belief that individual choice is all important and yet when we come to a point where life no longer is the preferable alternative, choice is removed from our arsenal.

Suicide is man's way of telling God, "You can't fire me - I quit."
Bill Maher
This is not by any means a morbid account.

It is a brief reflection on a powerful woman's desire to continue to make the critical decisions in her life.

Please consider this:  my mother has a strong and abiding faith in her God.  It is not a belief I share nor does that really matter.  After almost a century of living she is ultimately feeling disappointed that her God won't bring her home.  This is not the way we should be living our final  days.

If you are of a mind, please visit to learn more about how we can influence our final choices and the liberty and freedom we can all enjoy.

In the meantime, Mom, we hear you.  We love you.  We will give you a great party and as you wrote on your 21st birthday "we will join you in making whoopie!"