Ed Glister is a retired businessman and consultant and a son of his lovely mother in New York City, New York.
My mother Janine was a tough, brave woman. She was born in France in 1924, worked as a teacher, and met my father, a GI, during the bloody end of World War II. They married and settled in Queens, New York, where she worked at a five-and-dime.
When she was 85, she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and spent her final days at the hospital. Whenever I’d visit her, she would cry and scream, in both French and English, “Let me die! All I want is to do is die!” My Mom, a lady who lived life with dignity, was not allowed to die with dignity.
In her final weeks it was clear that death was imminent. She lived out her final days in pain that was constant and excruciating, with no chance of relief. She’d always tackled any problem head-on, but she had no control over her dying. Her pain, that continuing grief, affected not only her but all who loved her.
I’ve had a successful life as a businessman and consultant for major corporations. I knew that to succeed I had to look at the problem, identify potential solutions, and put the best solution in place. There is, obviously, no solution to death. But it was painful to see there was no solution for Mom’s suffering. I, her only son, could not help her in her time of need.
Death with Dignity is not a death decision, it’s a life decision.
The experience cemented my view on Death with Dignity. I’d always believed everyone should have the right to choose this option in certain circumstances. I volunteered for the Massachusetts ballot campaign in 2012 and in Vermont in 2013, making calls to voters. Some would oppose the legislation, and though I disagreed with them, I could understand the reasoning why the option is not for them. But their views do not abrogate my rights.
I want to live in a way that’s meaningful and beneficial to me and to exercise every last bit of control over my life as long as I can. Death with Dignity is not a death decision, it’s a life decision.