Monday, December 10, 2012

Memories that will not Disappear

For many years discussion continues about death with dignity which the bishops' conference sees as a  movement for euthanasia creeping in. The Peace Weekly in the editorial spoke to this fear and although Catholicism does not oppose the discontinuing treatment that has no meaning there is much thought that has to go into making laws on the issue.

A doctor writing in the culture of life column describes a case that he had which meant a great deal to him. A grandmother was in the intensive care for cancer, and he relates her story. The family at the start of the Korean War came down from the North, three daughters and the parents.
Shortly after the birth of the third daughter the husband left the family and went off to a distant city to begin a new life. The wife felt betrayed and lived with great anger. She  started working in the fish market to raise her three daughters. She work indefatigably and sent all three to college.

At the end of 20 years the husband came back after the failure of his marriage and wanted to continue where he left off 20 years before. The wife didn't want anything to do with this arrangement. She couldn't forget and forgive him for what he did. But the oldest daughter's marriage was coming up, and she felt that to have a father would be better than not having one, so she let him work doing the household duties and the shopping. 
One day feeling tired and losing weight she went for a medical exam and found that she had cancer. She had chemotherapy and during that time the husband was always at her side making amends for his treatment of the wife and children.The therapy did not prove to be helpful and she was told that she had a couple of months of life. She thought this was enough time to prepare for death.

However one evening at meal she had difficulty in breathing and eating her food. Some of the  food went into her lungs and she developed pneumonia and was taken to the hospital and put in intensive care with a ventilator. During that time with the husband at her side, she wanted to speak to him in a way that would make it easier for her to leave the family.

"Everything is alright, Everything now is alright with me. Get rid of all that you have been carrying and live. Thank you for being by my side. In all truth, thank you for being with me. When we meet again in heaven let us laugh  together"

The doctor finishes his words by saying that the cost of treatment continued to increase, and the treatment was of no medical help but no one can tell the doctor that the treatment had no meaning. What transpired during those minutes at the side of the grandmother no one could possibly expect, imagine or money could buy,  and they are memories that will last a life time and beyond  for those present.


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