I write this on Father’s Day.
It has been almost twenty years since my father died. He was well respected by all who knew him as a very intelligent man, consummate gentleman and a good friend. At the age of 72 he hit a concrete highway bollard at about 55 mph while driving a small car. He suffered multiple serious injuries, not the least of which was brain damage. I flew to California to help my mother attempt to cope with the situation. Every day I would visit for hours with him in the hospital. Some days he was lucid, some not.
On one of his last lucid days he asked me to bring him a large safety pin. When i asked why, he said that he wanted to use it to end his life. I balked at this and he said “Mark I am always in a lot of pain.” and “Some days I find myself at the sink with my toothbrush in my hand and I look at it and don’t know what to do with it, I don’t know what it’s for. I don’t want to live like this. Just bring me a pin”
That evening, respecting this great man’s wishes, I gave him a pin which he had me pin to his shirtfront. The next day he was off in his mind somewhere in 1930’s Philadelphia. That day the hospital said they’d done everything they could for him and he had to be transferred to a nursing care facility. Knowing this was one of his “worst nightmares”, and feeling quite the Judas, I arranged it.
My father died two days later. The cause given was cardiac arrest. When I picked up his “effects” from the nursing home the safety pin was still pinned to his shirt. I hope he used it, but I’ll never know if he did.
Euthanasia should be a valid choice for those in intolerable pain.
I regret and resent that those who purport to know “God’s will”, hold this option hostage in the political arena from those folks who do not believe in that particular god and who would would like a dignified end to their pain and suffering.