This I Believe

Anna - Bloomington, Indiana
Entered on July 5, 2007
Age Group: 65+
Themes: death, family

June 13, 2007

Today is my 73rd birthday; more specifically, this is my 74th summer on Earth. Since I am proceeding towards my 8th decade, I thought I should set down some of my thoughts about end-of-life matters for my husband and children.

To these comments, I am attaching a copy of end-of-life directives and advance care planning forms, the originals of which are in the freezer of our refrigerator, a practice health care providers recommend so that emergency response teams will know where to find them.

First, let me assure you all that I am planning to make the most of my diminishing years—as energy and money allow. However, when the time comes for me to take to my bed and succumb, I beseech those who care about me to follow my wishes, which are as follows:

1. Medical treatment should be used for only one of two reasons

a. to cure or correct a health problem

b. to insure a comfortable end

2. No effort should be made to sustain me in a vegetative state nor to prolong a life that makes no sense for me or anyone else.

3. I want to be cremated in as simple a manner as possible, for as little expense as possible. (Surely Big Lots has a plan.) If there is any money to be had, it should be used by the living. I have not yet decided what to do with my ashes, but they should not be entombed. Maybe they should be scattered where my husband David lies or will lie.

4. No one should enter a funeral home in my behalf. I trust, with all of the talents my children have, that they can put together a short, tasteful memorial service to wish me well. Of course I wish them well and expect them to continue to care about each other and the lives we shared together. Any immortality I can understand is possible only by the love and concern that each generation passes on to the next. I hope I have left a legacy for you that sustains you as you take your turns to pass it on. It seems like an intelligent design to me.

ADDENDUM: It’s June 14 now. Dad (David) is on his pilgrimage to Maine for the 8th Maine celebration and to recall those who prepared the way for his life. All of us will be gathering in Bloomington in a little over a week to renourish the energies that grew out of our being and becoming a larger family.

July 28, 2005: As I run across them, I will suggest words that might be said to remember me by. For example, I like one of the epilogue speeches in The Tempest, when Prospero steps out of character and beseeches the audience to wish him well in his journey home.

“Now I want

Spirits to enforce, art to enchant;

And my ending is despair

Unless I be relieved by prayer,

Which pierces so, that it assaults

Mercy itself, and frees all faults.

As you from crimes would pardoned be,

Let your indulgence set me free. (to be followed by applause)