This past weekend, I rode with Mike and Cheryl, Kaitlin and Connor, down to Georgia to visit Carole. The trip takes about 4 hours, and on the way down, after Cheryl and Mike got off from work on Friday, things were a bit stressful because everyone was tired and hungry. However, when we came home on Sunday, we left at 2:00 P.M. after having eaten a nice lunch with Carole before we left. As we rode, both of the children drifted off to sleep, giving us adults a nice opportunity to talk without interruption. I am very pleased we took that opportunity and made good use of it, apparently without any pre-planning on anyone’s part to do so.
Cheryl had experienced the death of her grandfather, Eugene Doyle, a month or so ago. She realized that they had never had a conversation about such things as what he wanted done at his funeral or how he felt about end-of-life issues, such as whether he would want his family to “pull the plug” under the circumstance that he lapsed into a vegetative state. Such topics are never easy to bring up because the moment never seems to be quite right for the conversation, even though it is important for families to have it. Of course, the time for such discussions is before a crisis exists, but when you are in good health discussing them seems morbid to many people. So typically, we avoid it.
On our ride back to Knoxville, we had that conversation about my own thoughts about the end-of-life questions. Both Cheryl and Mike did a very nice job of asking the questions and listening attentively while I told them how I felt, without their interrupting what I had to say. It was an excellent use of what would have otherwise been dead time, easily wasted with idle conversation or passed in silence.
I’m making this note on my blog so that other members of my family, Jeff and Deanna and Carole, any of whom may be around when I am facing those issues at some unknown future time, will know that I communicated my wishes to Cheryl and Mike that afternoon. Of course, it would surely be better to document those wishes in writing in a living will, but since making one of those is another easy thing to put off, this blog record at least acknowledges that we had the conversation on July 2, 2006 while coming home to Knoxville.
Long rides with loved ones while traveling provide a chance to talk. It’s a good idea to make wise use of the time.
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