“I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked”
The first funeral I ever went to was my Grandma A’s. My memories of Grandma A are sparse, as I was only six when she died. What I do remember is the candy she’d bring when she came for dinner on Sundays. I remember chasing her horrible cats around her house. I remember the smell of cigarettes and stale cat litter. I remember helping her in her gorgeous garden. I remember the mauve skirt suit she’d wear with a gold brooch on the lapel. And I remember the night she died.
I mentioned cigarettes. She started smoking early in life and never stopped. She went to see a doctor about her poor health and he said it was very likely lung cancer, and they’d like to do some tests to be sure. She said, “No thank you.” And went home.
After a while she came to stay at our house. Rather, she came to die at our house. She slept in the room I shared with my sisters. The night she died my parents were gone at a church activity and my older sister was in charge. Grandma started talking about how she needed to go. My sister thought she was asking to use the restroom. They’d get half-way there, Grandma would ‘wake up’ and ask what on earth was going on and they’d return her to bed. This happened two or three times, and then Grandma started talking to her deceased sister. At that point my sister said, “You’d better go sleep upstairs.”
I took my sleeping bag to the attic bedroom, and lay on the floor staring at the rafters, fully aware that Grandma was dying. The next morning, when I came downstairs Grandma was gone and the mattress she had been sleeping on had been washed and was drying in the morning sunlight.
As I’ve gotten older the story of my Grandma’s death was explained in increasing detail. I was in my late teens before one of my siblings said retold the whole story to me, start to finish.
In the afternoon before Grandma died a few friends came to visit her, friends that she knew from the days she was active in the Hemlock Society. My mom is convinced, to this day, that they were delivering a suicide pill which Grandma took later that evening. My mom also feels quite a lot of guilt for letting such a horrible thing happen in her house.
When I ask myself what I would have done in my Grandma’s place, I must admit that I think I would do the same thing she did.
There is lots of room for reasonable disagreement on this issue. Please share your thoughts about Euthanasia, End of life plans, and the right to die movement, but remember to be respectful and considerate.