Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Death Panel

My Death Panel

This blog entry is respectfully dedicated to Sarah Palin who was for ‘Death Panels’ before she was against them.  In the rush to criticize the efforts of President Obama in his push toward the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Ms. Palin raged against the inclusion of coverage of physician-patient contacts for the discussion of how one wanted his/her death circumstances to be handled.   In an article in this morning’s New York Times, this very topic is discussed in detail.  What follows is an excerpt from that article by John Wasik; 

“Do your most important planning early,” said Laurie Siebert, a certified financial planner with Valley National Financial Advisors in Bethlehem, Pa. “Complete your estate planning documents, including a will, power of attorney, advance directives and a living will. There’s not a lot of control from the grave, but a trust may help, if needed. Do your planning today.” In the written directions you provide your family, you may also want to include grave site or mortuary information, funeral directions and provisions on how you want to pay for your memorial. Do you want specific music played or pictures displayed? Are there past events or accomplishments you want your survivors to remember?  Most important, Ms. Carlson noted, is to discuss with your family what you don’t want in your final moments and beyond. Many severely disabled people do not want to be kept alive if they have experienced extensive loss of control over their bodies. Death with dignity is also a subject to be aired in family meetings.  “If I’m totally dependent upon someone else,” Ms. Carlson said, “my sense of self will evaporate. My time is up at that point. I will be looking forward to the other side — and coming back.”  Although death planning may be one of the most difficult things you will do, it is one final act of self-determination. You may not have control over your last minutes on earth or how you will be remembered, but you can certainly guide your survivors on how you want to be treated and memorialized.”

So this is how I want it to be for me.  I want the world around me to stop for one minute’s silence while everyone reflects on all I did or didn’t do.  In case one wonders what I did, the answer is ‘not much and certainly not as much as I wanted to do’  but I always tried to do my best.  I also want each of my eight grandchildren to stand up at my celebration of my life and tell one of my eight best jokes.  (A respected friend has said that if that is done, the room will be empty by the time the second joke was over, but I want it done anyway.)   Note that I am not giving any guidance on what particular jokes are to be told, because there are so many of them it is hard to choose.  If any tears are to be shed at this time, they will be tears of laughter.  I want my funeral service to be a celebration of my life.  I want my wife, Mary Ellen, to be given a standing ovation for her love and devotion to me, and have her know that, despite my many faults, I loved her (and continue to love her dearly) with all my heart.  I want my three daughters, Rebecca, Mandy, and Sarah to receive a standing ovation for their love and understanding that, while I was not a perfect father, I respected and admired each of them for who they are and the fine and admirable people they have become and that I have appreciated their support and understanding as I lived out my imperfect life.  I want my grandchildren to know how much I loved them and how much fun it was to watch them grow and become the fine people they are.  Just as a small reminder to each of them, please read and not to try to memorize the joke that you each tell this group because many of my jokes are so complicated, I would not want you to forget to tell the punch line (like someone else you may have know might have done!).   About that life (i.e. my life), at times I have played in the wrong key, much as I have actually done in playing my tuba.  In fact, in my life, like my tuba playing, I have rarely got the music right the first time.  Over and over again I have made the same mistakes only to finally make the adjustments necessary to move on.  The exception, of course, is my game of golf.  Life is definitely not a game of perfect.  Finally, I would like to have a Dixieland band play at my celebration of life.  Two songs are mandatory; Amazing Grace and Just a Closer Walk with Thee.  With the latter song, it would be nice if the words were provided to everyone so they could stand up and sing along.   That will be really nice.  Thanks for doing that, and thanks to all of you for being a part of my life. 

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