In the event that I cannot make my own health care decisions, there are no other people I trust more to make these decisions than the three of you. The three of you are growing into people I am proud to call my children and my friends. Each of you has different strengths and together you are a great team.
I am writing down a few of my wishes and values to guide you in the decisions if you have to make them. Being independent is a value that I hold very near and dear to my heart.
I remember as a small child hearing a consistent challenge from my father, one should always be prepared to care for themselves and be their own person. So much of what I am is because of Grandpa, and I dearly miss him every day. Each of you was lucky to have him in your life. And looking at how independent each child in his family has turned out, I think he is smiling at us each day (probably from a boat when he is out fishing).
If I am in a life-threatening situation where the outcome is most probably going to be a state of dependency, I do not want any extraordinary means employed to keep me alive. I do not want to be maintained on a respirator, receive artificial feedings, nor have people resuscitate me if my heart stops.
Death is not really the enemy, and I believe in another life after death. Death does not scare me, but living without any quality does. I like being a part of each of your lives and having a life of my own. Just being maintained with bodily systems is not my definition of living.
If I am paralyzed and cannot breathe on my own, if I have a critical head injury, if I suffer a large burn, if I have a significant neurological event, or require surgery that is only palliative, I want you to consider the outcome. What would be important to me is to be kept comfortable, free of pain, and have my family close by during my dying process. These examples do not address every situation, they are just examples. Use your judgment. I trust you to make good choices.
If I am to die and can help another by donating organs that is a practice I am in favor of. I would live on in each of you but just maybe in someone else also. However, if anyone of the three of you is opposed to this and does not feel comfortable, do not feel obligated to agree to donation. I have found this is a very private decision and makes some people uncomfortable.
I want my children to speak for my health care needs if I cannot. Please support them in these decisions, which they will make based on my values. I have seen people question decisions especially if they are not the decisions they would like made. Please don't do this. Health care decisions are hard to make and people do not need to be second guessed.
I have a great life. I have three children I am proud of, an extended family that will be there for support, and a circle of friends that I cannot even begin to explain their importance.
I have had fun and I see my life as an adventure. Humor ought to be a large part of every person's day. Every day there is a new mountain to climb. Some adventures are not much fun and do not turn out the way you want them to, but all of them shape who you are. I always make myself try to do new things because I swore never to get complacent and do only what is comfortable.
This year I have made a decision that changed the makeup of our family, truly the most difficult decision I have ever made. Time will tell whether it is the right decision.
In the future I challenge the three of you to always be willing to climb new mountains and greet new adventures. I want to see a future where each of you is happy, that you make supportive and provocative mates if you marry, attentive parents who challenge any children that come, supportive family to your extended family, and a loyal friend to those you choose to call friends. Karen Kaiser Clark talks of growing deep not just tall. I heard her speak years ago, but I have never forgotten that statement.
The other concept that has guided me was in a book by Viktor Frankl. The concept emphasized what we can control in our lives. We cannot control so much that happens to or around us, but we can control how we choose to react to what happens to us. I cannot tell you how much this concept has helped me. It gives me a sense of control in situations even when I cannot control any of the events. And it helps me put events in perspective.
As I close here, I have to chuckle because I realize that even at the end of my life I do not stop giving directions. Humor me, it is who I am.