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After my father’s pulmonary embolism, he was never the same. Only fifty-seven when it happened, It was the beginning of his slippery slope to the finish line and it took him eighteen years to get there.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that human beings were kinder to their pets than they were to themselves. None of us would let a dog linger and suffer the way my father did.

He never complained, but he struggled, especially when he was still working. Back then (his embolism was in 1968), retirement age was fixed — 65. He had to struggle for eight more years before he could leave work with his pension. Every day, he came home so drained, his face was gray.

After he retired, it got better for a while, but not for long. Something else went wrong, then something else, and so it went until 1983 when his kidneys failed and that was the tipping point for both of us. He didn’t want to go on living and kidney disease is relentless. Dialysis was three times a week for hours at a time and there’s no let up. He couldn’t decide one day that he was too exhausted to go and skip a session. Show up or die.

And he’d rather have died. He lasted another three years and I started my struggle to promote euthanasia for humans. I know there are risks, but I will not go through what he went through.

Now that I’m in my seventies, I’m more convinced than ever of the need for euthanasia, an opt-out program for humans. I think most people know when it’s time to leave the planet. I push for euthanasia when I can, I’ve joined an organization called Compassion and Choices, and I proselytize on the subject whenever I get a platform (like now).

I’d love to live to be a hundred if I’m healthy enough to keep doing the things I like to do — like writing, for example, or singing in my choir (pandemic permitting). But if I can’t do those things or if my mind’s gone with dementia, I want someone to understand that this is my end and help me get there, not let me linger.

We’re all going to leave the planet. Let’s do it when our bodies give us the signal that it’s time to go.

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