“The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die and you to live. Which of these two is better, only God knows.”
Such clarity of mind and absence of fear, when faced with imminent death, is remarkable and unusual. His last words were a reminder to Crito to pay a debt for him.
I am not dying, nor do I intend to do so for a number of years yet. However, I suspect when that Spectre is nigh, that I might not be possessed of the coolth and clarity of Socrates. So I will tell you now about how I would not like my dying to occur.
My intention is to inform my kith and kin and doctors to avoid the involvement of lawyers, who insist on making simple statements complex in order to guarantee certainty … and fees, no doubt.
In accordance with our will, my estate and all my possessions are to become my wife’s property and in the event of her death, before or after me, will be divided equally amongst our five children.
A simple concept was developed in Florida, USA to encapsulate the how I want to die / don’t want to die situation, called the Five Wishes, which met the approval of even Mother Theresa :
- My wife is the person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t. If she can’t, then I wish one or two of my children to do so.
- I do not wish to receive Medical Treatment that will prolong my life, unless I would be able to enjoy a good quality of life thereafter. Don’t keep me alive as a vegetable, don’t resuscitate me unless I could go swimming unaided and sing songs thereafter.
- I like the idea of pain relief and maintaining dignity, even if it might not be good for continued breathing.
- I do not wish to be a burden on my family, especially if /when I become demented. Place me in care and only come to see me if I will recognise you.
- There is a Catch 22 here which you will need to resolve: the cost of care will come from our estate, which may diminish your inheritance. Let your own quality of life be the guiding principle.
- I would like a memorial gathering where people can offer prayers, tell stories, laugh and cry.
- Above all I would like to hear the singing from wherever I may be;
- I wouldn’t mind a wake – in any event, I would like people to have a bit of a hooley
- I would like my ashes to be the growth medium for an umVovovo tree (huilende boerboon / tree fuschia).