We had a grand celebration for Grandma Luticia’s 100th birthday. Grandma Gray--who was an only child--and all the grands, great-grands, and great-great-grands; plus her neighbors, church friends and church dignitaries. There were considerably more people at her birthday celebration than there were at her funeral one year later. Proclamations, telegrams and cards came from all over the country sending birthday wishes to the travelling evangelist that was instrumental in building many churches across the United States in her 70+ years "working for the Lord". Willard Scott from the Today Show sent a birthday-gram as well and apologized that they were unable to recognize her on air. It seems that there are thousands of Americans turned 100 every month and they couldn’t show everyone’s picture on television.
Grandma’s obituary says she departed this life following a sudden illness. Actually, it would have been more truthful to say that she departed this life because she was 101-years-old or because she was really, really old, but I’ve always leaned towards the dramatic when I’m writing! ;-) But that’s how it happened—the way most of us would like to go. One minute she’s talking to Grandma Gray on the telephone (she still lived alone) and 15 minutes later Grandma Gray shows up with her afternoon meal and Sister Tish is on the floor and not breathing!
And now to why I’m sharing this with you. The EMTs revive her and the emergency room revives her again. The question comes up about life support and the decision is made to hook her up to allow time for other family members to come and say goodbye. So my Mom and I hop in the car and make the 100 mile drive in record time. Fortunately (by the grace of God), my uncle who lives 2,100 miles away was already in town for a visit. So after everyone who could arrived at the hospital to say their farewells, the attending doctor was told he could disconnect the respirator. He advised us that she really didn’t have that long with or without the respirator, so it was best to leave it on so that we wouldn’t be second guessing our decision later. After a few hours, Sister Tish passed on to Glory, the respirator was removed, and we said our goodbyes again.
Weeks later we discovered that Grandma Tish had discontinued her life support much early than April 15th. Most of her pills--her daily, life sustaining prescription medications—were discovered in neat little piles between her mattress and box springs. Which supports my theory that she only wanted to be 100-years-old! I just imagine she had talked this out with the Big Guy and was pretty upset with all the reviving and the respirator. Loved ones never want to let you go, which is why we all need an advanced directive and someone knowledgeable—like our personal physician—to explain the provisions and the process. And this discussion should be covered by Medicare, just like Section 1233 of HR 3200 outlines.
Living wills and advance directives for medical decisions
Oklahoma Advanced Directive for Health Care
Oklahoma Advance Directive Act