Friday, December 29, 2017

A Good Old Age?

Today we'll visit my mother on the occasion of her 92nd birthday. That is a "good old age" except that old age hasn't been good to her recently. She is now confined to a wheelchair and must have assistance for every physical function. She has days when she is responsive, cognitively, yet may still struggle to express herself. It's always a gift when we're able to chat, even briefly. She is most animated when her great-grandchildren are part of the interaction, whether through videos or in person. She smiled when her nearly five-year-old great-grandson came to visit with us and was animated when her four-month old great-granddaughter was introduced to her earlier this week. 

Mom didn't want to live this long, and this way. But what were the alternatives? She told us that she was supportive of MAID --Medical Assistance in Dying -- but we never had a nitty gritty conversation about her own circumstances and now we never will. She has a DNR and her nursing home is aware. Still, that's not the same.

In the bigger picture of 2017 there has been a lot of conversation about MAID in this country. We are fumbling around in the ethical and spiritual implications, which is understandable. The medical community continues to explore what is legally permissible in assisted death, how the boundaries might be changed, and who should be involved in decision-making. This was bound to happen.

Pegg and Takeda in his living room

I heard a lengthy CBC radio The Current piece about a Canadian named Will Pegg who is dying of cancer. It was very worthwhile listening because Will has a lot of support and he is a very spiritual person, in a positive, Heinz 57 way. He is living the best life he can as the end approaches, planting garlic for harvest next year and even marrying. Yet he may not make it to Spring of next year and he's made careful plans to die before prolonged suffering. Some religious friends have distanced themselves from him because of this, but his resolve is strong.

As we head into 2018 I hope we all have the conversations we need with those we love. If we are people of prayer we can ask God for wisdom and guidance for what is happening in Canada and also in our personal circumstances. Life is a gift from God and we should cherish it for all people, everywhere. Dying is part of life as well and how we depart is something we should all ponder and address without fear.

In the meantime, live and love well. And Mom? Well done, good and faithful follower of Jesus.


roger said...

Life is definitely a gift to be cherished, and death is something most of us don't like to think about. I'm sure many of us have wondered about the "when" and "how" of our departure from this life, and we can only hope that we don't endure prolonged suffering before it happens.

Visiting my father several times a week at the Extendicare, I'm reminded as soon as I enter the facility of people who are suffering and appearing to have very little quality of life. I know in my Dad's case, if he were given the opportunity to end his life today, he would take it. I'm constantly reassuring him the rest of the family is fine, especially my special needs sister who is still moved to tears regularly from the passing of our mother ten months ago. He wants to know that we will all be okay when he passes, as he fully expects it to be "soon".

Personally, I intend to try to live in the present more(let's call it a New Year's resolution!) and focus on family and on doing activities that bring me joy. I think that starts with getting rid of cable TV! What used to rattle me at work often does not affect me the same way, although that is probably due to a quickly approaching retirement date!

Judy said...

My sister spent 4 years in St. Mary's on the Lake in Kingston, when she was in her early 60's - she had a massive stroke at age 65 and was completely immobilized except for blinking and moving one arm. She could not swallow or speak... I wish we had been able at that point to allow her a medically assisted dying option.