Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Terri Shiavo et al


You know, maybe I'm some sort of unnatural parent...but I think you raise your kids to adult state and then you get out of the business of living their lives. Oh you never stop loving them, watching them, holding out a hand when they stumble but you let them have their own lives. That includes giving up rights about your children to THEIR nearest kin...IE the man or woman they have chosen as their spouse. Who in my opinion and I do believe in the opinion of the law becomes their *NEXT OF KIN*.

I'm the first to admit I don't know word one about the details of the Shiavo case, and maybe I'm missing something crucial, but here's my take.

To start with:

This was referenced on a blog I happened upon by chance, it's not a blog I read, nor one I'll likely go back to (and not based on this commentary or post either). I perused a few posts and frankly not my cup of tea.

Michael Schiavo Is a Vile and Petty Man

Terri Schiavo's husband buried her cremated remains in a Clearwater cemetery Monday, inscribing on her bronze grave marker that ``I kept my promise.''

Michael Schiavo, who had said he promised his wife he would not keep her alive artificially and waged a long legal battle to remove her feeding tube, also listed Feb. 25, 1990, as the date she ``Departed this Earth.'' That was the day she collapsed and fell into what most doctors said was an irreversible vegetative state.

Submitted without comment.

However...this blurb irked me somewhat...particularly the hypocracy of setting out an opinion; and then ending it with submitted without comment. Hmmm, seems that a comment was made at the very beginning. But hell, that's just semantics after all. Right, no comment there at all...


It seems to me, that as parents we do what we can to raise our children right. Teach them to have minds of their own, maybe even challenge us on our beliefs and mores to discover their own. Raise them, never stop loving them, never stop watching them, nor being proud of them or wincing when they make a mistake. Maybe as I said, even reaching out an unconcious hand when they stumble, but all in all teaching them to be adults all by themselves.

Part of that for many, is picking the man or woman who they choose to love, live with, form a family with. That person becomes their *NEXT OF KIN*. I don't really understand why the parents in this case even had any say in their daughter's life at that point. Call me an unnatural parent if you like, but I want my kids to walk away from me whole persons on their own. I don't have to love or even like my children's spouses. I do however believe that I have to respect their choices. (little side note: if there is abuse in that equation, that all goes out the window and woe betide the man or woman who abuses one of mine)

As I said, I'll freely admit that I know nothing of the details of this case. My only information is that this woman fell into a coma in 1990 and her wishes were that she not be kept alive. The coma was deemed vegetative and the fight then began. The woman's parents fought this man in court, and public opinion for 15 years. Making it impossible for him to get on with HIS life. And now are crabby (or rather their lawyer is crabby if I'm reading the articles correctly) because he chose to put something that meant something to him and her on her gravemarker. Note, that's not all that's on the marker.Note the picture of the marker. It also says Beloved Wife. Nothing like a little judicious editing to cast someone in a bad light, hey?

I guess in my world (the one I control that I can reach with my fingertips when I spin around in a circle) he had the *RIGHT* to abide by his wife's wishes. In fact as her husband he not only had the right but also the obligation. It's my understanding that it was clear that Terri didn't want to be kept alive by unnatural means. I sure as hell don't and have made my wishes abundantly clear to my spouse, my children and my lawyer. That's all I can do. Thankfully, I doubt anyone in MY family would challenge my husband's right to see my wishes upheld.

So was he thumbing his nose at his wife's parents? It's entirely possible and without speaking to the man I'd have to go with gut however that perhaps, just perhaps... this 15 years he's been striving to do just that...keep a promise to his wife.. and this is his way of achieving closure...

You know in all my years, at funeral after funeral I've noticed one thing.. the dead don't care.. it's the living that hurt, and hurt back. Things were said to me at a dear relative's funeral that I would have bet you 3000 dollars to a donut would never have come out of the person who said it, not in a million years, and yet there it was, blurted out in emotion and anger and loss.

Perhaps that's how this started...who knows... maybe her parents were just unable to let go. I can't say that I don't sympathise with them even if I think they were wrong to pursue this. We all hold on to our children as tightly as we can and it is just wrong to bury a child. However... my take still stands.

Mr. Shiavo had the right to bury his wife. She ceased being the woman he knew and married for all I know even loved when she fell into that coma and I'm willing to bet those dollars again that given the same set of circumstances, she'd have let him go.

Emotion had no place in this decision. Harsh, well yeah but the time to make these sorts of decisions are not in the throes of grief, nor is it when beloved members of your family who love you without doubt should find out what your wishes are. Take some time to talk to those you love. Find out what they want. Tell them what you want. Do it now, without grief and loss looming on the horizon. It's hard, damn it's nearly impossible to do about your children whose next of kin you still are, but it needs to be done. Done with a clear head and a mind unbefuddled by what do I do now thoughts. And while you're at it...sign your doner card and make those wishes plain to your loved ones as well.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Remember Dad.

I remember the night my mom died... my dad was a short man, stocky, strong but only about 5'3" or 5'4" I had to remove my heels to dance with him at my grad.. but he was always 10' tall in my brain. Until I watched him walk into the family room at the hospital.

He was a farmer, one of the younger of 11, parents immigrants from the old country, first generation Canadian, Ukranian by descent, mostly. Farmer and oh so much more.

I don't know that much about my dad's childhood, or even his teenaged years, for that matter not much of his young adulthood either. I know he married a local girl, had 6 children with her, of which 2 did not survive. She passed (I believe) of cancer at a young age, my info is sketchy but I think she was 39.

When the youngest was about 12 (my brother) he married my mom. A widow, crippled at aged 7 with polio. She'd been the housekeeper. My sisters, then 14 and two older as well (gotta keep the details down to a minimum you understand, as well I'd have to do the math to figure out how old they were.. suffice it to say both were married and well on their way with their families. I'm older than the oldest's youngest of 5 by 2 months.) Anyhoo... the housekeeper, quite a scandal.

Again, my info is sketchy...not because I don't care, but because I'm hesitant to ask.. to hear the versions.. I prefer my dad's information, given to me at the birth of my first daughter, when he arrived on my doorstep after a rather interesting conversation with my eldest sister... "Dad wants to come visit you and the baby..." "Okay, when are you guys coming?" "No, DAD wants to come, on his own... on the bus..." "...." "Yep..." "Ummm...okay...." You see, being a farmer my dad never voluntarily went on a holiday in his life, to my knowledge. So for him to want to come to see me was odd, and to do so on his own, even more so. But whatever... the point is, during that visit he told me that he loved my mom. That she wanted a child and that he'd have given her everything. That is good enough for me.

I am my mom's child. I didn't fall far from that tree when it comes to crafts, cooking, sensitivity or intelligence. Not that my dad wasn't an intelligent man.. he was ... very... I don't remember him sitting down ever without a book to read, unless he was playing cards. I grew up an only child, with a father who was 56 when I was born. My mom was 41. I don't remember either of them without white or grey hair. I don't really recognize them in the early pictures in the photo albums.

But the ones where I'm standing next to him, a huge umbrella of hay in a pitchfork over his shoulder, me with a much smaller umbrella and much smaller fork for that matter, over mine. That man I recognize.

The one who hid my mom's best knife for 6 months because despite warnings from her to the contrary he just had to cut the frozen keilbasa with it and snap the blade off in a half moon. That man I remember well.

The one with the twinkle in his eye as he told me some outlandish explanation for why the planets revolved around the sun to see if I knew my facts on space well enough for a test. The man who came in with tears in his eyes to tell me that my dog Laddie had died, and who bawled as he dug the hole for the faithful friend. The gentle hands on my horse's leg as we dressed and soaked a wound day after day, the same ones that packed the mud and chicken shit tightly in the burlap sack around his forelegs when he foundered and the voice that told me to stand him in the creek till my legs were numb. The guy who agonized with his 5th grade education over my 8th grade arethmetic. The guy who read my text books at night when he thought I was in bed to stay ahead of me. The one who danced with me at my grad, my chin nearly resting on his head while I did.

The man who at 76 turned a somersault (of which I have pictures) because his granddaughter asked him to...

The one who lay in the bed at the nursing home, curled on his side, eyes blinking furiously when I told him I was there.

That man I remember.

I love you Dad.