I was talking with a friend earlier this week about the difficulties we will face in the months and years ahead as our parents age. She is in the process of looking for an assisted living arrangement for her mom.
I have a friend who is a year or two older than me, making her around 55. About five years ago, she was diagnosed with a form of early onset, aggressive dementia. She remained at home until this past summer, when her wife put her in a memory care facility. She was only there for a few months before she was transferred to a facility that provided a higher level of care, and based on what I have heard in the last couple of months, her condition has deteriorated significantly.
And then there is the story of Alfie Evans, the two-year-old British toddler who suffered from a disease that essentially wiped out all of his brain tissue. I think I’m with Kevin Drum on this, if I was one of the judge’s who had to decide Alfie’s case, I would have granted his parents’ request to move him to a hospital at the Vatican instead of ordering his life support be removed.
If Alfie was my son, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull him off of life support based on the overwhelming weight of medical evidence. But he’s not my son and I don’t have to make that decision, nor should I, or any doctor, government bureaucrat, or judge be allowed to make that decision for the families of those destroyed by diseases like this.
The way I look at it is that it’s a lot like the decision of whether a woman can choose to have an abortion or not. If government can’t intervene in that decision, then it should not be allowed to intervene in decisions like this, where there is family who are more than competent to make the decision, and particularly where the continued care will be privately funded. The day we let government make these types of decisions instead of the families on behalf of their loved ones is the day we lose just a little bit more of our humanity and our freedom to choose. In life or death situations, the choice should be the individual’s. It should never be the government’s.
May 26, 2013
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I went to the county fair this morning for a couple of hours. I’m not a fair person, but I was there to visit the younger Princely Midget. He’s got a pig there and today was auction day. Yes, for the second year in a row my Jewish son raised a pig. Last year’s pig was named Chuleta — Spanish for pork chop. This year’s pig was named Kosher. Go figure. That’s not the point here though. Parking was $10, Admission was $5. When I went to the Giants game this past Wednesday, we parked at the lot controlled by the team. We paid $35 to park. Each of our tickets was $18. In other words, we paid $1 more for two admissions than we paid to park our car. So, my question is this … when did parking at an event begin to cost more than actually attending the event?
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I’m fine with the opening paragraph to this piece:
Rationalists and secularists in the old plain style were very clear about death and dying, or at least they tried to be. “It’s just a nothing,” they would say: “the lights go out and then the curtain falls.” I won’t exist after I die, but then I didn’t exist before I was born, so what’s the big deal? It’s going to happen anyway, so just get over it. We are only forked animals after all, and when the time comes you should give my body to medical science, or burn it and use it as fertiliser; or why not eat it, if you’re hungry, or feed it to the pigs? And for goodness sake, don’t worry about how I died – whether peacefully or in pain – and don’t speculate about my last thoughts, my last sentiments or my last words. Why attach more importance to my dying moments than to any other part of my life? As for the business of seeing the body and saying goodbye, and the trouble and expense of coffins and flowers and funerals: what are they but relics of morbid superstitions that we should have got rid of centuries ago? So no fuss, please: the world belongs to youth and the future, not death and the past: go ahead and have a party if you must, with plenty to drink, but no speeches, nothing maudlin, no tears, nothing that might silence the laughter of children. And I beg you, no memorials of any kind: no stones, no plaques, no shrines, no park benches, no tree-plantings, no dedications: let the memory of who I was die with me.
In fact, for those five years I made my own beer and always had several dozen bottles of homebrew in a cabinet in my garage, my only requirement was that my friends had to get together and finish the beer.