Monday, November 14, 2011

'50/50' inspires essential talks

News-Press
11/14/11
Dan Warner

We went to see the movie “50/50.” So should you.

Not because it was an entertaining movie, which it was.

Not because it was a moving tribute to the best and worst we humans have to offer, which it was.

Not because the guy got the girl in the end and vice versa, which is what happened.

Not because the quality of the writing, the acting and the photography were excellent.

It is a must-see movie because it gave us something to talk about on the way home and then over dinner, something important to all of our lives, something that the lawyers and doctors ask us to talk about, but also something that the reality of which never hit us until the end of “50/50.”

The movie is about a cancer patient, but it is more about dying and what the possibility of dying does to our lifestyle, our relationships and our psyche.

It spurred in us a discussion of what we want when we are dying.

Our talk went beyond the legal stuff.

Sure, we have a living will. We haven’t paid much attention to it and filled out the forms by necessity, not after enough reflection.

Sure, I have long-term insurance to pay for a nursing home. Sure, the government will provide somehow if the insurance isn’t there.

But what do we want from each other? And from other members of our family?

Two quick examples:

Janet doesn’t like people around when she is ill. Like a deer, she wants to lie in a thicket and lick her wounds.

But, we discovered as we continued to talk, it isn’t that simple. She wants me somewhere near. She wants to know that my presence is there and that I am available.

I discovered that I wanted two things: Not to be totally alone and not to burden Janet. I know Janet will find it hard to honor that second wish, but it is real and she needs to make it a major part of her decisions.

I recommend more than seeing the movie. I recommend that estate lawyers use it at seminars, that hospitals make it available for groups and that the hospice people offer copies to families of a newly admitted patient.

Because our discussions, while long, haven’t ended.