Vail Daily letter: ‘Yes’ on Proposition 106
Until you have dealt with the death of a terminally ill family member, Prop 106 won’t mean much to you and you will find it hard to decide how to vote. For me, the decision to vote for Prop 106 is an easy one. As with any new legislation, it isn’t perfect, it won’t make everyone happy, it will have the potential for misuse; but if we wait for the perfect version to be drafted and all of the right controls to be in place, so many people will miss the opportunity to die with dignity.
The decision for me to be in favor of Prop 106 is easy because I watched my father die four years ago of pancreatic cancer. While many strides are being made to help with a cure and to extend the life of those with pancreatic cancer, once it has metastasized into other organs little can be done and death comes relatively quickly but is terribly painful.
My dad died at age 82, and even if treatment options existed for him, he would have declined them all. In his mind, he lived a full life, saw all of his children get married and spent quality time with his seven grandchildren. He was child during the Great Depression and World War II, and mindsets regarding money were very different back then. Be frugal, be practical, spend on needs not wants, be happy with what you have — and that is how he raised me and my siblings. He saw treatment as a waste of money that could be spent on other things and wasn’t practical at all.
I remember sitting with my dad when he was in hospice and the hospice doctor came in to see how he was doing. With conviction and with frustration, my father asked the doctor, “Doc, can’t you give me anything to get this over with?” Sadly, we were in Indiana and the answer was “No.” The other sad part was that my dad wasn’t dying “fast enough” so Medicare was sending him home within a few days accompanied by visiting nurses and a hospital bed so he could die there instead. The last thing my dad wanted was to die in the middle of the living room where that memory would last for everyone.
My dad was suffering. My dad wanted some control of where and when he died — it was the only thing he had left. We all came to see him when he was in hospice. We all had the chance to say our goodbyes, share memories, hear his final wishes for us. Not many people get that opportunity when they have loved ones who are sick and don’t live close by. They have to hope and pray they make it to their bedside in time. Prop 106 may actually allow more people to see their loved ones before they pass because they know when it will happen (if it doesn’t happen naturally before the set date).
I’m a Christian. I believe in God. I have to believe that if God is merciful then he would understand an individual’s decision to end their suffering and their family’s suffering before their body shuts down. Consider this — for medical reasons but also personal choice in many cases, expectant parents can select what date their baby is born, assuming it’s safe for the baby. That isn’t done naturally. Why, then, can’t a terminally ill individual who is suffering not be able to pick when they die and die with dignity?