Going in Style
We treat our pets better than we do our senior citizens.
This past week my daughter and her family had to send their beloved Winston off to pet heaven. Winston, a miniature schnauzer, had been my daughter’s companion since she got him as a puppy fifteen years ago. He predated college degrees, marriage, child, career. He was her steadfast friend through thick and thin.
A deteriorating body and bad health caught up with Winston in recent years, as it does with all of us who have lived long enough, until his quality of life was such that it would have been cruel to artificially keep him breathing. As my daughter, who struggled mightily with the decision, said: “I’d be keeping him alive for me. If would be unfair to him.”
Winston’s final week was quite a celebration. Friends and family came to say good-bye. He went to a brew pub and got to sample beer and eat sausage. He was held and snuggled and fed his favorite food. They (my daughter and Winston) even had a moment singing together.
On Sunday a veterinarian came to their house. They said their last good-byes to Winston, wrapped him in his favorite blanket and shed tears. They held him as he went peacefully into the afterlife. Then they had a memorial picnic in his honor: food, wine, toasts as Frank Sinatra sang “My Way” in the background. “I think it’s what he wanted,” my daughter said. (Did I mention that Winston liked wine?).
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but when I go I want to go exactly like Winston. None of this “keep him breathing and his heart pumping at all costs” stuff. I want to say good-bye to friends, give last bits of wisdom to family, eat and drink a little of my favorite things and, yes, even sing “My Way”. Then go peacefully while I’m still able to make that decision on my own.