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My New Dilemma

My New Dilemma

There are times in physician’s life, when he/she recognizes that a patient is absolutely overwhelmed by a choice between living or dying. It happens more than most people know. The decisions are never easy, since many of us believe this mortal structure we call our body is all each and every one of our Souls will envelop. Life in America can be harsh, but not like most other lives in countries where inhabitants struggle to just get a fresh glass of clean water or something unspoiled to eat. Our standard of living creates an illusion of sorts. Death is and always will be the final destiny of every person born on this Earth.

I seldom write about personal events that occur in my family or my life. It is not that I believe I am above the fray of common man, I am a common man. It is not because I believe I have all the answers. I do not. I have found myself in search of all the answers since I was a child. I am still searching. I mostly keep personal things out because I have a very different viewpoint about living, what life itself means and its relationship to all other living things.

I do not envision family as a group of people, born together, who should die together and dismiss each other's bizarre behaviors, supposedly loving each other unconditionally through thick or thin. I do not believe that we choose our family's construction from the Hall of Souls before we incarnate into our present lifetime. I do not believe that I contracted with the Divine to be with everyone in my family prior to my Earthly arrival as a breathing living being. And because of my beliefs and disbeliefs, I see people's behaviors differently. I have a firm commitment to allowing those who wish to carve out their own destiny to live it. My job is to make sure a life's pursuit is achieved in the healthiest way given the circumstances of what surrounds the ill or the infirm. The Westernized medical therapeutic model has so much Christian influence, that many times choices are not choices, they are mere iterations of the fear of dying theme that permeates many flavors of the Christian religion. Most physicians stitch us to the cloth of medical fantasy by way of medical jargon and manipulated statistics. People spend hours praying for miracles as if someone or something will emerge and save the day, only to be astonished when a miracle is not bestowed and no one came to save the day.

One such adventure involves my eighty-seven year old Aunt Flora. She was and remains an amazing human being of great personal depth, although she died this past Tuesday. It was not a death that any of us would choose, but the illusion of choice had a great impact on her life ending saga.

She was an independent woman. As I grew up in the sixties and seventies, I believed that my Aunt Flora was the ideal woman. She was physically beautiful and was not shy about being fashionable and edgy. I remember her coming to family gatherings in thigh high leather boots and miniskirts. She always left the scent of Chanel 5 behind her. She worked at Manufacture's Bank in the money transfer department. I heard bits and pieces of her conversations between my dad, grandmother and uncle, most of which a ten or twelve year-old boy would not understand, but some of it I got. She drove a convertible automobile and smoked cigarettes which was the fashion for independent young women. She had a number of boyfriends, all of whom me and my siblings did not care for, probably because they took her attention away from us. But we all liked Uncle Bill.

She married late in life to Uncle Art. I believe she was forty years-old. I was twelve. The wedding was one of my fondest memories of my family because everyone was happy, festive and everyone seemed to be in a zone of togetherness. She never had children. Her husband was a used car sales man at Krajenke Buick in Hamtramck, Michigan. Their combined incomes put them in the highest bracket of the middle class, perhaps even in the lower upper class. They seemed happy and in love.

We always held Thanksgiving dinner at her large apartment in Lancaster Hills and later in her home in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She was an amazing cook and followed in the footsteps of her mother and my grandmother. She mourned deeply when her mother and my grandmother died. She cared for her husband's mother when she was ill, and her abusive father when he was ill and dying. Her abusive father died in her home. Over the years, her husband endured numerous surgeries for diverticulosis, he developed Parkinson's disease and died a frail old man in his eighties. She never left his side, took care of him regardless of her own physical ailments.

She was fond of dogs and had several. Some of them were rescue. I suspect they were her children of sorts. She doted over them like parents often do over their kids. I sent her flowers on Mother's Day, orchids of different colors and varieties. She always made it a mission to track me down and thank me for my kind gesture. She was the last remaining Merigian woman that I felt had my back in a crisis or would say a loving kind word when I was depressed for any reason. I love you was her often spoken phrase she used to express herself unselfishly. She taught me that those three words could rise a person from hell and heal a broken heart, all at the same time.

In the last few years she developed some forgetfulness, not dementia. She also developed a sense of helplessness. All of us are extremely prone to feeling helplessness. She saw no reason to live anymore since her duties to her family and friends were finished. All of them who were instrumental to her sense of self in her generation had died except my uncle. Unfortunately, that was not enough for her. She had confided in me that she wanted to die and she had nothing to live for, not even her dog Jolie. Over the past few months, she had developed a condition that did not allow her to swallow food or water. She lost a tremendous amount of weight at the same time. I last spoke to her in May 2015 after she received her orchids. She was stubborn and refused to see a physician for her ailment. I believe that she just felt helplessness and did not want anything else to be done for her. Just let nature take its course. My Uncle, although frustrated with her, let her make her own decisions about her health care. I guess it is a Merigian trait passed down from generation to generation. My grandmother and her sister, Aunt Flora's mother, came to the shores of America as refugees from the Turkish genocide of the Armenian people in 1919. Both were married to men they did not know until the day they were married and they accepted their fate without regret. Aunt Flora was reared Old School, to accept her fate.

Two weeks ago, my Aunt could not breathe very well. My Uncle asked me to speak to her to get her to go to the hospital since she refused to go for him or my niece. And I did. She agreed to go for me if she could return home. That promise was made as well as someone would care for her dog while she was at the hospital. She never returned home. Thyroid cancer had metastasized into her voice box and closed off her ability to breath. She did not suffer as she suffocated to death. She ascended to her celestial home to join all of those who she loved and died before her. And now our family has only one of Flora's generation left, my Uncle. He's pushing 80 years-old.

As I pondered the passing of my Aunt, I thought of all the great smiles and warm hugs and kisses she so freely gave to me and the other members of my family. I suspect all of us have someone in our lives who is their Aunt Flora. Or at least we should have. But what bothered me the most was a new dilemma that had arisen from her death.

To whom in my family do I send Mother's Day orchids next year? Maybe I'll have to switch to Father's day to honor my Uncle. It's just a thought.


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:32 AM
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