My Dad’s Story by Bonnie R.

My Dad's Story – by Bonnie Ritt

I grew up knowing I with rich. abundant, not monetarily wealthy, rather with two loving parents, an older sister and brother.   As the free spirit of the family I was groomed, at a young age, to be the family caretaker.  Later to learn that was not only a privilege but a burden as well.

Mom was a do-er, President of every organization and religious group she joined.  Her Joie-de-Vivre was contagious.  Dad was more cerebral, a humble, kind, religious man as well as a proper lawyer, never to bend the law.  Quite a contrast in personalities, but both the salt-of-the earth, good citizens, good people.

In my 20’s, after attending several funerals, my mind wandered to Peggy Lee’s song, “Is That All There Is?”  You’re born, grow-up, become productive, maybe propagate, then die quickly or slowly.  Do we go to ashes or heaven?  No one has returned to affirm either.  Shouldn’t society continue to grow ethically and medically?  I believed there had to be a way to help people in-need live on, whether in a small way, or through donating organs, skin, tissue, bone, other body parts, etc.  So I chose to become an organ donor.

After the experience of euthanizing our precious family pet, I wondered why we are so kind to our pets but exceedingly cruel to our parents and grandparents. This felt quite prehistoric to me. Why could we let loved ones suffer when they no longer wanted to live, had lost their lust for life or the dignity that defined them? That along with feeling like a burden to the remaining family is the unanswered question.  I started paying attention to the brave, medical hero Dr. Kovorkian, the Jackie Kennedys’ as well as others with like thoughts. (It is documented that Richard Nixon had specified the same in his will.) Then years later I found out about Death with Dignity.

During this time, my beloved mother died instantly of a massive heart attack.  At 73, it was shocking to us, but we all knew Mother was lucky, she did not suffer and died as she had wished to die, FAST !  Dad came to live with me immediately, in NY, spending his summers in Chicago with my sister.  In contrast, Dad had suffered.  Boy did he suffer, NEVER complaining but we saw the pain in his eyes.  The warm sparkle had gone.  It started with Parkinson’s, then prostate cancer, etc.  During his last year, I could no longer care for him, even with paid help in the house.  My sister came in from Chicago and we brought him to the nursing home that my brother had done research on.  Dad slumped into a chair, looked devastated and heart broken.  Looking into his tear filled blue eyes, we could not leave him there and took him back home.  However, 6 months later, he finally needed to enter a nursing home.  While Dad would not utter the words, “Kill me, let’s get this over with,” he continually said, “you should know what to do.”  We’d ask what does that mean, his response was still the same, “you should know what to do.”  We did not know what to do.  This was the unspeakable.

Had end-of-life plans been put in place, years before, Dad’s death would have saved him months of pain, the indignity he experienced and the heartbreak we felt.

Death with Dignity, MAiD, is the only humane answer.  Remember, you don’t let your pets suffer.  Is it really ok to let your elders suffer?  Please, take time to think this through, we have grown away from the dark ages, when we only did what the previous generations did. Time to move away from being idealistic.   This is NOT a TABOO.   We are not discussing being cruel, but acting kind.  I choose KIND.

Give your offspring the legacy of a Planned-Death.

No surprises, no torturous days, months or years of excruciating pain.

I am now 77, living in Florida.  By giving another individual a chance to live on is my priority.  By dying when I deam it the appropriate time should be my choice.  My family knows that when my ashes return from the organ donation site, it would be so nice and my “choice,” to be sprinkled over my families’ burial plots.    Ashes-to-Ashes.   My Choice.