Craig's Story Craig Moore, is the father of Dwight Moore,
AZELO's Education Chair and Chairman-Elect. Craig was an unwavering
believer in medical aid in dying. Sadly, because of the draconian
political climate in his home state of Pennsylvania, Craig was
denied the peaceful end of life he sought and, instead, resorted to VSED
in his final days. Here, Craig is pictured dancing with granddaughter,
Sasha, at a family wedding celebration.
By Dwight Moore
My dad (Craig Moore) lived 93 vibrant
years. He was curious, social, adventurous, and in love with my mother
for 64 years until her death. He lived a long and full life. But, in his
94th year he developed “failure to thrive,” a multifactorial state of
decline where most of his systems began to shut down.
He moved from his
independent living apartment in Bethlehem, PA, to an assisted living
unit in the same facility. That is when he called me at my home in
Blaine, WA, and asked me to “come out here and be my coach.” I knew
immediately what he was asking. He was a lifetime advocate of the
Hemlock Society and believed firmly in death with dignity and leaving
this world on his own terms. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania did not have a
medical aid in dying law (and still doesn’t) so he made the decision to
stop eating and drinking and recognized that he would need support.
Dad had written out his wishes. He said we would know that he was “done”
if he became “confined”… no longer able to move on his own, no longer
interested in reading three newspapers a day, no longer attracted by
food, and not interested in his customary gin Martini. After I arrived
at his care facility, we talked at length about his readiness to die. My
sister, Sara, arrived soon after. It was obvious to both of us that
Dad, indeed, had reached the point he had written about years ago. He
was crystal clear in his refusal to endure further medical treatment and
gently explained that he was "done." He qualified for hospice care, and
they helped manage his bed sores, his daily bath, and attempts to eat.
He had already decided that he needed to begin the process of stopping
eating and drinking (VSED).
He notified his
doctor, his family, the nursing staff, and the administrator of the
facility about his intentions and told them that his “coach” would be
helping him. In reality, I ended up being more of a linebacker than a
coach, as I had to fend off well-meaning staff who wanted to give him
ice cream, insert a picc line for long-term administration of
antibiotics, minimize the amount of morphine he was getting, and, in
general, talk him out of his decision. At each staff shift change, Sara
and I had to re-explain his wishes. The whole medical establishment
pushed for him to stay alive despite his steadfast directive that he was
ready to die. It was difficult to witness. His pain and anxiety caused
him to twist in his bed sheets, mutter about a secretary who couldn’t
take dictation, writhe in discomfort in his bed, and occasionally yelp.
To help quiet him, I asked his hospice team to increase his morphine
dosage. Only then did he become more peaceful.
beginning of his ordeal, he told me that the first two days were “hell.”
Mercifully, he only lasted five days from when he stopped eating and
drinking. Sara and I took individual "shifts" staying with him and
leaving to catch some uneasy sleep in between. For reasons I don’t
recall, we were both with him, holding both his hands, at 3:00 a.m. when
he calmly drew his last breath. Unsettled and worn-out, Sara left
shortly afterward. I stayed long enough to watch the funeral home
attendants put him into a body bag and take him away. At that point I
lost all composure.
It was my
father’s desire to die with dignity -- to conclude a life of
self-reliance with a death that would allow him to exit gracefully
before the pain and helplessness became unbearable. In part, that is why
I have been an advocate and activist wherever I can help advance the
cause of death with dignity in states like Arizona where such laws have
yet to be passed.
AZELO Revamps Its Internet Presence
A New Website
We now have a new redesigned website at AzEndOfLifeOptions.org
(capitals not needed—they are only used here to make it more readable).
There was a major reason we needed to do a redesign: The old website
was not mobile friendly, and half of all internet use nowadays is with a
mobile device. We can’t be an effective advocacy organization if half
of the people who might come to our website have to struggle to read it.
At the same time we sought to make
the site a more focused effective presentation of our cause. On the home
page we have stated the mission in simple direct language before the
reader even gets to the main text. The About Us text is broken into
short segments in keeping with today’s short internet attention spans.
We have also strived for a simple navigation system where more detailed
information can be easily found when desired. We have added a new FAQ
section and a summary of the proposed law.
Our subject matter does not lend
itself well to exciting pictorial material; so, as an Arizona
organization, with both the old website and the new one we have used a
“beautiful Arizona” graphical theme to add visual interest. On the new
site, newer technology allowed this to be increased to include
interactive slide shows (where you can click on an image for a larger
version) and even a video on the home page (the video is turned off for
mobile devices to save bandwidth). Although there was some concern that
this might be too distracting, the majority thought the unique visual
appeal outweighed that consideration.
A New Domain
At the same time we opened the new website, we have changed our internet
domain for both the website and for email from ChoicesArizona.org to
AzEndOfLifeOptions.org to reflect the actual name of the organization
(again, the capitals are not needed). Not to worry—if you use the old
address for either email or the website, it will still get through to
the right place, but please make a note to switch over to the new
domain. The domain change was accomplished by our volunteer Information
Technology team members Tim Tarkington and Dave Wolf.
An Old Webmaster
David Brandt-Erichsen, a retired researcher in molecular genetics, is
our volunteer webmaster and was responsible for creating the new
website. He is referred to here as our old webmaster not because of his age, but because he
created the original incarnation of this
website back in 1998 for what was then called Arizonans for Death with
Dignity. He states: “I learned how to make websites with 1990s
technology, so as an old dog I had to learn a lot of new tricks to
accomplish this redesign.” He watched a lot of how-to YouTube videos.
David’s dedication to this cause goes
back to 1986 when he got involved with the Tucson Chapter of what is
now the national Compassion & Choices organization, one of the first
such chapters in the country. He served on the Board of the Tucson
Chapter for several years and then on the Board of the statewide chapter
(originally called Arizonans for Death with Dignity) for several years
as well. Both the national and state organizations went through several
name changes over the years. David is a life member of Compassion &
Choices and he hopes his membership does not expire any time soon. But,
he says, “When it’s my time to go, I want it to be on my terms, not somebody else’s!”
David likes to say that
“freedom-fighting is in my genes” because he is a fifth-generation
direct descendant of Lucretia Mott, the famed abolitionist and women’s
rights advocate who was co-chair of the original women’s rights
conference in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. So it was only natural
for him to be active in supporting medical aid in dying in Arizona for
the past 35 years, working toward this “last right.”
“I am really excited to be a part of
Arizona End-of-Life Options,” David states. “I am very impressed with
the quality of the revitalized leadership which, among other things, has
formed a broader coalition than what we had before. This, coupled with
the momentum from nine other states now having medical aid in dying,
makes our chances of success much improved.”
David is also volunteer webmaster for
several other organizations. He is on the Board of Directors and the
Volunteer Website Team for the National Space Society, a lifelong
passion. He is webmaster for the Natural Arch and Bridge Society and
contributed some of his unusual photos of Arizona natural arches to the
graphical “Arizona” theme of our website. He is also webmaster for the
Elverhøj Museum in Solvang, California—what is now a museum of the arts
was originally the home where he grew up, built by his artist parents.
He resides in Tucson.
-- Starting from at the Eagle Lake Country Market, a community motor
procession provided a final send-off to a dear friend. The windows of
many of the cars were decorated with handmade posters and tokens showing
symbols of a life well-lived and well-loved: one with a construction
paper rainbow leading to a heart, and one cut into the shape of a heart
that simply said “Lee.” read more
-- The Massachusetts Legislature may soon vote on the
state's End-of-Life Options Act. The Joint Committee on Public
Health recently approved the bill, the first time it was voted favorably
out of committee since it first was introduced in 2011. The Massachusetts Medical Society,
the state chapter of the American Medical Association, went from
opposing the bill to being neutral -- a policy change that has
given the bill momentum in the legislature. read more
Share your story -- Here's how...
The power of a
personal story goes well beyond simply relaying facts and data. They add
color, depth and credibility, and help people connect with the message
in a deeper, more meaningful way.
If you are a supporter of medical aid in dying (MAID), then it's likely
that you have experienced an event in your life that prompted your
support. If so, we would love to hear about your experience. If
you are uneasy about your writing ability, not to worry -- we'll help
you get your story told. The most important thing is simply having a
story you are willing to share. If you have questions or a story idea,
simply drop an email note toStu Burgeand let's get started. In the meantime, why not check all the other great stories curated on our website. (link below)