my wife’s mother passed away on 3/15. she had been dealing with slowly worsening health for several years, and it had been getting close to unbearable for her in the last few months. the chemotherapy she had been doing was becoming less effective, and the options were few. it was essentially going to be a battle with leukemia, which was not the way she had envisioned her end; not what any of us would choose.
in the end, she had a stroke, and was gone in two days, after spending a day in hospice surrounded by her three daughters and many friends and loved ones, who gathered at her bedside to say good-bye. it was quick, and dignified, and painless, and simply a much better way for her to go than anyone had been expecting.
my wife tells me that one of the greatest gifts she gave her daughters was a detailed and complete set of final wishes – what she wanted in terms of end of life care, and the fact that she did not want a funeral or memorial service, even what she wanted done with her ashes (sprinkled from the top of the empire state building – she loved new york city) – so that, when the time came, there was no scrambling to decide what to do, no need for discussion between the three daughters. everyone knew what cathy wanted, and my wife says it made the end so much easier for everyone involved. she has been telling everyone to make these preparations, and follow all the proper legal guidelines. i recommend five wishes, a document that i’ve had filled out for quite some time. it is perhaps more important for those of us who face perhaps more of a possibility of becoming disabled to the point where we’d need someone to make those sorts of choices for us. how much better if we had already made them and specified exactly what we wanted.
cathy was a classy lady – independent, strong and caring (she had a long career as a care-giver, a school nurse and a leader of her town’s visiting nurse service), and she went out with class. her daughters did her proud, and i would wish for nothing less for myself.