My father died suddenly and unexpectedly on March 6, 2008. (We kids believe he had a heavenly hand in the Jayhawks winning the national championship the next month. His KU fandom knew no earthly bounds.)
Dad had suffered a massive stroke the night before. As we all gathered at the hospital, life support systems had already been put in place to keep his body alive so organs could be harvested when the inevitable time came. As my sisters and I comforted our mother in the ICU waiting room, my brother ran home to get “the folder.”
A little background:
Thus, “the folder.”
Inside were Dad’s advance directives, every document my mother and hospital authorities needed to ensure this dreadful moment was unencumbered by legal red tape: living will, medical power of attorney, organ donation instructions (selected organs going to Harvard for research) and a non-legal (at the time) completed questionnaire describing in detail his last wishes in terms of his comfort and care.
My mother and father had talked about this day many times. It was undoubtedly a difficult conversation yet they were on the same page with each other’s plans and desires. But, that folder – all signed, notarized and legal – saved our family a lot of extra, unnecessary grief.
That was Dad’s final gift to us: peace of mind.
- Cathy Hamilton
In honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day, April 16th, the Lawrence Public Library’s Before You Check Out program will host a talk by Kansas City attorney William Colby at 7 pm in the auditorium. Bill will speak about his experience arguing the first ever “Right to Die” case before the Supreme Court. Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health was a landmark case decided in 1990 that underscored the importance of advance directives. The program will be held in partnership with LMH Health and the Senior Resource Center. LMH will have advance directives and notaries available at the program.