Is a Plane Crash the Worst Way to Die?


My mother died in June 1979.  She died just a few days after United airelines flight #191 just fell out of the air  shortly after take-off from O’Hare Airport in Chicago.  279 people died.  It was believed one of the engines  came loose & fell off and cause the  plane to  lose balance.  It just happend so fast—-as the plane was gaining altitude, it nosedived and crashed into a motor home park.

Boom, just like that.  Meanwhile, my mother had been in and out of the hospital since about March that year. She had brain tumors which had been giving her headaches, and  the brain tumors were from lung cancer that had mestastized.   It was stage four lung cancer.  Yes, my mother smoked.  As a teenager, she weighed a 145 pound, and in the 1940s, that’s what girls did to lose weight:  they started smoking.  She was very proud that after she lost the weight, she never gained it back, and was a steady 122 pound for years…until she got cancer. Obviously, she had been sick  for several years, but  she wasn’t going to get a chest x-ray.  She coughed because she smoked, right?

So, the last about  six weeks of her life, she was in the hospital, not being able to breath, barely able to move, She went down to about  80 pounds, She wanted to come home, but my father wouldn’t hear of it.  I said we could set up a hospital bed in the living room.  He didn’t want that, because then she’d know she was going to die.  What is worse:  knowing you are going to die, and dying at home, or knowing you are going to die and dying in the hospital?

 

Well, now my father is 92.  It is 2019…. 40 years later.  he’s not dying…but you can’t really say he’s living, either. For the past year or so he’s been falling. Losing his balance, I  guess. It’s what happens if you live too long.  Women get osteoarthritis and break their hips because they lose bone density.  Men just fall.  He broke his neck and his femur at the end of November.  He had to be immoble for weeks.  He had to shit in a diaper, and that was the worst part.  Second to worst?  We daughters had to figure out  how to get his long-term care insurance to  pay for it. They kept changing the rules as w went along.

We girls also wanted to find a way to keep him at home, but my stepmother couldn’t handle him anymore.  He needed help going to the bathroom, and  he  would not use his walker.  He was in ‘rehab’ for about  six weeks, but then when he reached a plateau, he had to transfer to a nursing home.. The first day there, he fell and broke his neck again, which meant the cervical collar for another  eight weekis.

He’s ‘ok’ now…but is he?  He’s very lucid.  He knows what day it is.  He also knows he’s not going home. He knows he needs help. but he is not dying.  He really can’t go outside.  He can just go within the home.  It’s not a bad place. they do their best. I’ve seen worse.  If he was indigent, he’s be in a crappy place, but it is not home.

How do you want to die?

 

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