Directing the Final Scene By Bob Morris on May 30, 2015
In part he wrote...
When they pulled out the pump that was keeping my father’s heart going, his hands shot up in the air, and he shouted “Wonderful!” My brother, Jeff, and I knew why. He had been waiting to die for a year, having tried to take his life with far too few pills to do the job. It left him, at 81, doomed to a life sentence with a failing heart that wouldn’t let him be the fun-loving, bridge-playing, romantic crooner we had known. He was happy to be leaving us and we, in turn, were happy to see him go. We’d been mourning him for a year as he faltered and despaired. [...]How do we direct our final scene? By making our wishes known before that time comes.
Dad had done the same thing with us for our mother just four years before. She had been ill for 10 years and had no quality of life left. But we had to wonder if she was fighting because she wasn’t ready to go. We lit Sabbath candles, we sang to her, we did everything we could to make her final exit a good one. But it wasn’t, and when the last breath went out of her, her face froze in anguish. A nurse had to come in to close her desperate, open eyes.Our father seemed so blissful in comparison, content to drift out to the abyss. At some point my brother asked if he wanted us to sing to him, as we had done for our mother, and as we had done as a family all our lives, using songs when we had no words for conversation. He shook his head and whispered, “No, no music.” But Jeff said, “Let’s just do one song.” I harmonized with him to “You Are My Sunshine,” as I had for so many summers with our parents in the car or backyard. I felt resentful but said nothing.
The document Five Wishes I have in the office allows anyone to set down how they want to be treated at the end of their days, especially when they can no longer speak for themselves. It is important because it will relieve guilt, anxiety and resentment!