Dr. Emanuel is chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and a former Obama administration policy adviser. He is also older brother to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel.
At 75, Dr. Emanuel plans to issue new instructions to his doctors. No life-prolonging measures. No screenings, like colonoscopies or cardiac stress tests; no treatments like chemotherapy or heart bypass. Not even flu shots or antibiotics -- nothing but palliative care to alleviate pain.
I've lived for a decade after age 75 and I'm glad I didn't follow Dr. Emanuel's plan. From the critical response to his article, others agree that his idea is wrong. Still, I find myself in accord with much of what he says. It's made me pause to consider my post-75 decade, and to re-evaluate how I'll handle the years ahead.
In this post, I'll review some of what's made the past decade the happiest time of my life. Later, I'll write about about mortality and how we spend our final years -- thoughts prompted by Emanuel's article.
What follows is mostly a photo montage. I'll comment on Emanuel's article later.
My Diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease in September 2009.
This development heads the list. Emanuel sees chronic illnesses like this one as good reason for an early exit. In fact, PD has become my raison d'être . It's given my life new focus and purpose.
Emanuel says that by age 75 he will have lived a complete life. "I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives."
Since age 75, here's what I've seen in my three families:
My Schappi Family
Great-granddaughter Kaylee, born July 7, 2006
|Kaylee celebrates her first Christmas with her mother Jessie.|
|Grandpa Todd and his sister Ann admire Kaylee.|
|Todd with Kaylee at Christmas a few years later.|
|Jessie, Kaylee, and McKenzie (now called Kenzie).|
|Kenzie, the explorer.|
|Ann and Kaylee with Camden.|
|The wedding and reception were the best ever!|
|I was honored to be asked to escort Emily's foster mother down the aisle.|
Our Venice-to-Barcelona Cruise Last Summer
The Schappis (minus Ann) took a Venice-Barcelona cruise last summer. Here's the gang.
My Pokhara Family
I managed to get Ramesh a green card and he came to the U.S. in January, 2009. His wife Laxmi and son Rahel joined him in March, 2012.
|Rahel... and the view from outside "John's room."|
|Now, an All-American Family.|
My dozen or more trips to Nepal from 2001 to 2012 involved spending almost as much time in Kathmandu as Pokhara. In KTM, I would get my daily International Herald Tribune fix by going to a popular bookstore in Thamel (the tourist district) owned by the Thapa family. They all worked in the store and I became friends with the family. One of the sons, Nimesh, did his undergraduate work at Truman University in Kirksville, Mo. and worked each summer in Ocean City, Md. In his comings and goings, he often would stop off at my house in Washington for a day or two.
After graduating from Truman, he got his masters/finance degree at American University, which is close to my house. So Nimesh stayed with me at Eskridge Terrace.
One of the most enjoyable experiences in my life was accompanying him back to KTM for his marriage to Bhawana Khadka. When Nimesh returned to the U.S.with Bhawana, they took up residence at Eskridge Terrace.
Since then, we've become a close-knit family -- the best domestic relationship I've ever had.
|I have the honor of accompanying Nimesh on the groom's ride to the bride's house.|
|An arranged marriage that clearly is a love marriage as well|
|Nimesh's grandfather and I became best buddies|
|Me, Nimesh, Bhawana, Nimesh's mother and his brother Nitesh's wife|
|Nimesh and Bhawana have a reception for their friends in the DC area|
|I love seeing Nimesh and Bhawana dress in their Nepali garb|
|Here we are at the Boat House restaurant in NYC's Central Park|
|The obligatory Statute of Liberty photo|
|It's great to have these young people around the house.|
|My Kathmandu and Pokhara families together in the U.S.|
For Nepali's, the Dashain festival which occurs in late September or early October is like our Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years all rolled into one. Nepal's all over the world will do their best to get home to Nepal for this festival. Since I often visited Nepal in the fall, I've celebrated Dashain there many times. And when I'm back in D,C, I'm often invited to celebrate Dashain with local Nepali friends.
Last Friday night, I got to celebrate Dashain on my own back porch. Bhawana's parents are staying with us during a month-long first visit to the U.S. I'm sad when I think that I probably never will return to Nepal. But I'm pleased that Nepal, its culture and its people are still part of my life here.