Don Ayre

About Jean Ayre

Born Pittsburgh March 9, 1931

JEAN AYRE: Jean graduated from the Pittsburgh Academy School of Business.  She worked for the City of Pittsburgh and wrote a column for the Pittsburgh Courier before her employment with Family and Childrens Services of Pittsburgh where she met her husband Don. Jean met Don on the elevator making daily trips to the Family and Childrens Services on the fifth floor.  It was the 60s and It was a difficult decision for her to marry and move to Don’s home of Winnipeg.  But she uprooted and replanted herself in Don’s home city 1500 miles from Pittsburgh regardless.  She moved to Winnipeg in 1966, became citizen of Canada 1972.  A very active person socially, she often expressed her appreciation of the introductions that her in-laws made for her in Fort Gary community.  Don and Jean lived in the same home in Fort Gary for 46 years.

Jean had always had a strong interest in child development and welfare and was a loving person who devoted herself to teaching children that loving themselves was the greatest love of all.  Sharing it was the greatest gift. When she first came to Winnipeg, she was active as a child advocate and leader in many volunteer organizations including the local Fort Gary community centre, the local United Church and Childrens Hospital.  She later made a career out of commitment to child welfare beginning as a supervisor at the Manitoba Youth Center and eventually moved to probation serves. She was caring while at the same time, demanding of her clients.  After she retired in 1993, she was appointed to chair the General Authority of Child and Family Services for the Province of Manitoba.

In 2012 when Don was Still recovering from bladder cancer and Jean was waiting for a hip replacement, Jean and Don decided to leave their home on Somerset Ave of 46 years and join the Portsmouth Retirement Community where Jean immediately was elected President of the Residents Committee.  After her term as president and then as past president, she continued to work on behalf of the Portsmouth community as chair of the welcoming committee for new residents.  She continued to demonstrate that not just for children, loving oneself is the greatest love of all.  Sharing it is the greatest gift of all and Jean shared her love freely.  Jean had the joy of a child in her and a love for happiness that she brought out in others just by her very presence.  She known to be outspoken about her love of life.

However, she began to be troubled by an extremely painful hip but she was unable to have a hip replacement operation due to the fact that she had had a hole in heart from birth that had made her heart work harder for her 86 years of life.  Although she was in and out of hospitals due to the hip pain and other complications, she never lost the joy of living that she passed on to friends and family.  She was diagnosed as terminally ill and then after three long weeks in the Victoria Hospital, the doctors were able to get control of the pain and to release her to her home in palliative care.  While in the hospital, she was also offered medical assistance in dying (MAID) and found to quality.  She was nine months at home in palliative care before opting to have medical assistance in dying on December 23, 2017.

 OBITUARY of JEAN ELIZABETH AYRE March 9, 1931 - December 23, 2017

My loves, my earthly journey is over, and what an 86 year adventure it was! I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, USA in 1931 and in my wildest dreams could not have predicted how wonderful my life would be. My mother and father, Bessie and James Brice, are now deceased; also all of my siblings, James, Wilburt, Isabel and Lily Mae Brice with whom I spent my youth and young adult years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My dearest daughter, Monica, died in 1974 as a result of an accident. Although gone before me, these departed family members have always been with me in my heart and spirit. My incredibly loving husband Don and I enjoyed over 50 years of marriage that was defined by unconditional commitment, respect and love for each other. Can you believe it? We met on the elevator of the building where we both worked. I was in the steno pool of Family and Children's Services of Pittsburgh and Don was working there as Director of Research while also taking his Doctorate degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Interracial marriages were illegal in 17 states and were not popular in Pennsylvania at the time, so Don returned to Winnipeg to teach at the University of Manitoba. From the time we were married in Winnipeg in 1966, our inseparable love for each other moved us forward to enjoy so many exciting times together. Our love transcends space and time today and forever. Our two sons, Ramon (Connie), Anthony (Lori-Jean) have made us as proud as any parents could be. And what can I say about our grandchildren, Monica, Morgan, Ashelyn, Aimee, Jessica and Greg Baker! Being grandparents to you all has been one of our greatest joys. The sporting events, plays, concerts, graduations, birthdays and just hanging out brought me so much joy! I have six great-grandchildren, Fintan, Callia, Zoya, Everlee Joy, Emily and Anna; and four Godchildren, Karin and Jeff Hammerback, Shannon and Courtney Burns and great-Goddaughter Sadie Lee. What a wonderful blessing! In my working career, I enjoyed my work at the Manitoba Youth Centre, Manitoba Probation services and as President of the Manitoba Child and Family Services Board. Volunteering, especially as President of the Resident's Council at Portsmouth Retirement Community where we moved after 46 years at 814 Somerset Avenue, Fort Gary, gave me great satisfaction. To my wonderful friends, please know that you have enriched my life beyond measure. Each one of you brought love, laughter, meaning, and joy to the many conversations and times that we spent together. True friendships transcend the petty stuff and thrive on the important things such as love, trust, honesty, integrity and commitment. Special thanks to lifetime friends and soulmates, Jan Burns and Terry Hammerback, who went above and beyond to provide great support and comfort to me and Don. My family and I would like to sincerely thank Dr. Adi Sharma, Dr. Nithya Venkatesan, the staff of Victoria General Hospital, the Palliative Care Team coordinated by Mary Ascot and the Medical Assistance in Dying Team headed by Dr. Kim Wiebe for making my final days as comfortable as possible and my dying dignified. There will be a celebration of life on January 18, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, 603 Wellington Crescent, where we have been members for over 15 years. In lieu of flowers, please support the charity of your choice. And please, please, open your hearts to making the celebration of my life a time to reflect on the joy that we have shared together. One of my favourite songs is "Smile" by Steven Tyler. Play it, think of me and smile. Love you forever, Jean

Presentation: An Autobiographical Love Story

On Saturday, September 22 at 11 am, Don Ayre will speak in the sanctuary about life with his beloved wife Jean and their family.

Jean wanted to help others enjoy and be grateful for life in the face of death by becoming more familiar with the notion of dying with dignity. In February of 2017, Jean applied for medical assistance in dying and qualified due to a failing heart that had made a hip operation impossible.

Don has many fascinating stories to share about their life together; you won’t want to miss this event. Refreshments to follow.

Copies of Don's book ‘The Power of Love’s Connectivity’ (A Case Study of Medical Assistance in Dying) will be available to peruse and order if you wish (25.00 at time of order.) A Kindle version and hard copies are also available through amazon.com.

Edited October 1, 2018 – based on question at the presentation. 40 people in attendance.

An Autobiographical Love Story

When I was asked to speak to you about my life with Jean and her choosing to use medical assistance in dying (MAID), I wasn’t sure that I could. However, it was very important to my wife, Jean, that as many people as possible know about our experience and become as comfortable with medical assistance in dying (MAID) as an option. It’s so very new. Only a year old in February of 2017 when Jean learned that she qualified for medical assistance in dying. She was amongst the first 100 patients in Manitoba. Her story is available as a blog on the Dying with Dignity website.

Even so, I am going to make a 20 minute presentation to give you some information about MAID and to tell you about our experience. I am very aware of the fact that tears are the only language that the soul has. So no doubt, there will be times when my soul interrupts me. I’m okay with that but in advance, I ask you for your indulgence. You might want to jot down your questions for when I’m finished. I’m looking forward to your questions after my presentation. MAID is so very, very new and so very, very challenging. As you will be aware from my presentation, it is already revolutionizing how we act as medical practitioners and patients.

My son, Ramon, is here with me on behalf of the family. Feel free to direct any of your question to him as well. Again, thank you for taking the time out on a Saturday to find out more about this very important issue. Jean left so many good words that the family encouraged me to write a book as a tribute to her. I used the title of “The Power of Love’s Connectivity” because that’s what Jean’s life was all about. I subtitled it as ”A Case Study in Medical Assistance in Dying” because Jean wanted to share her experience and to help others. But really it a love story. It’s available through amazon.ca or on my website donayre.ca Dying with Dignity has also made it available on their website. That is very exciting to me. I means that Jean and I will be around for as long as the Internet.

Jean and I believed that our lives were directed by synchronicities, unexplainable coincidences that were meant to be. We met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the elevator going to work in March of 1965. I was had come from my home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba to take doctorate studies in Social Work. As a result, I had been working for the past five years at the Family and Children’s Services of Pittsburgh as director of research. Jean had just started working there in the steno pool. Although she was in the agencies affirmative action program and it was at the height of Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement, she would have been fired had the administration known of our relationship so we mostly timed our elevator rides to see one another and when Jean was able to arrange to take the lunch hour shift on the switch board, we talked. Eventually, she invited me over for dinner.

As it turned out, we lived only a few miles apart. Jean lived in one of the more developed residential areas of the black communities and I lived in an all-white adjacent to it. It always amazed me as a Canadian that blacks and whites lived so distinctly apart. But then in Canada, aboriginal people live mostly apart from the rest of Canada, on reserves. We took separate street cars to her home to avoid being seen together by co-workers. Jean and I both were recently divorced. She lived on the second floor of home of her mother and father along with her two boys. Her daughter had been in an accident several months before we met and was in the hospital, essentially brain dead. Jean was trying to arrange a more suitable place for her care.

Eventually, we developed a pattern of visits – Tuesday and Thursday evenings for dinner and brunch on Saturdays. It was a strange courtship. We were reluctant to go out together as mixed couples were not that common. Even so, we were becoming more and more like a family. Her parents were very accepting of the situation and were mine. We were just following our hearts, encouraged by the optimism of the Martin Luther King human rights movement that was ongoing. However, mixed marriages were still illegal in 17 states and were generally frowned upon. We weren’t sure where it was all leading. We would take separate street cars to Jean’s second floor apartment and I would walk home taking a route out of the black community that had been cleared for me by one of Jean’s more influential neighbors. As Jean explained it: “He has put out the word. You’re okay.”

Eventually, we developed a pattern of visits – Tuesday and Thursday evenings for dinner and brunch on Saturdays. It was a strange courtship. Her parents were very accepting and were mine. We were becoming more and more like a family. We were just following our hearts, encouraged by the optimism of Martin Luther King’s human rights movement. However, mixed marriages were still illegal in 17 states and were generally frowned upon. We weren’t sure where it was all leading.

Fortunately, another synchronicity of life occurred. I visited my parents for Christmas and for no reason, I went on campus at the University of Manitoba where I happened to meet up with Dean of Social Work who offered me a teaching position. I phoned Jean as soon as I got home and asked her to marry me. She said, “Yes.” And then asked, ”Where’s Winnipeg? How do you even spell it?”

I returned to Pittsburgh and we made all the preparations including discussing the situation with Jean’s parents and her two boys. I started at the University of Manitoba in September and then in December, I flew to Pittsburgh and brought Jean back with me. We were married December 28, 1966. Jean returned to Pittsburgh and continued to work at the Family and Children’s Services of Pittsburgh until the summer of 1967 when we all drove the 1,500 mile from Pittsburgh to Winnipeg to continue to form ourselves as a family. We planned our route to avoid any big citites.

My parents had bikes for the boys when we arrived. They were very helpful in introducing us to the Winnipeg community and my mother in particular took Jean under her wing``. We were very fortunate. Jean found employment at the Manitoba Youth Centre and was eventually a supervisor and then an acting director. She transferred to adult correction where she was a probations officer until she retired. Afterwards, she accepted an appointed by the Premier of Manitoba as Chair of the General Authority for Child Welfare. She served for five years. I taught at the University of Manitoba for the first seven years that we were making our home in Winnipeg but then I went into private practice as a family and child therapist and educational consultant. I retired in 1994.

Then we learned of another synchronicity in our lives. When my father was no longer able to drive, Jean and I went with them to the First Unitarian Church of Winnipeg where they were members. We ended up joining. A few years later when we were very active as volunteers with the church, we discovered that that year that we were married, Martin Luther king had called for help in selling the number in his Selma demonstration. That was in March of 1965, the month that we had first met in the elevator going to work! Not surprising then, that Jean and I had always kept Martin Luther King’s human rights close to our hearts. Fifty-five Unitarian Universalist minsters with their member had responded. Not surprising also, that we had ended up joining the Unitarian Universalist Church with its commitment to a more loving and caring world.

Life was very good to us in Winnipeg. Our two boys were happily married. We had grandchildren, even great grandchildren. But then our age caught up with us. Six years ago, I had bladder cancer. And Jean began to have trouble with her hip. I was still recovering from my surgery and follow up treatments when we decided to move from our home of 46 years to the Portsmouth Retirement Community. We were very comfortable there in a two bedroom apartment. And Jean. of course, was very active in the community as President of the Residents Council for four years.

I can remember how happy Jean and I were when she got the phone call from the surgeon’s office to give her the date and time of her hip operation. She had on the waiting list. We were driving to one of our doctor appointments at the time. It seems that when you are over 80, you exchange your social calendar for a medical one. Surprisingly, my cell phone rang. I have an out of date one that I rarely carry so I couldn’t figure it out how it was happening or where the heck, the phone was. Jean had slipped it into her purse. She answered it. Someone had cancelled out with the hip replacement surgeon and she could be scheduled in two weeks. We were elated.

Two weeks later, we were at the Concordia Hospital. We were moving right along with the pre-op. We had had interviews with four of the hospital staff leading up to the one with the anesthesiologist. Without having discussed it, both Jean and I were a little nervous about the interview with him. Jean had hole in her heart from birth but it wasn’t discovered until she was well into her 60s. We had been advised not to risk having it repaired as her heart had somehow figured out how to function. She was seeing a heart specialist regularly and her heart was continuing to function adequately. But could it stand an operation?

The anesthesiologist greeted us somewhat abruptly. “Why are you here?” Jean replied: “Pain.” Then she commented to the anesthesiologist about how well he had matched his patterned socks with his shirt. She added “Where do you shop?” Without waiting for an answer, she named one of the more prestigious men’s clothing stores. He grinned. “As a matter of fact, yes,” he said. And then he went on to why he liked this particular selection of matching socks and shirt. Jean and the doctor talked fashions for a few minutes more and ultimately became very friendly. It was Jean’s way to always find that soft spot in a person’s heart as a basis for communication. I was always amazed. We called it “love’s connectivity.” Jean believed in love, gave it and received no matter what the occasion and however briefly.

The anesthesiologist recovered his professional composure and said: “I wouldn’t recommend you have the hip operation due to condition of your heart. It’s very enlarged and very over worked at present. It’s doing a great job actually but I don’t advise interrupting it. Have you tried pain management?

Surprisingly, we hadn’t. Except for Tylenol. The doctor recommended that we get Tylenol 1 and that we suggest to our general practitioner to prescribe Tylenol 2 or 3. He thought that Jean’s pain had reached that stage of severity.

Jean asked: “What about the operation?”.

He replied: “It’s my job to keep that patient alive while the surgeons do what they have to do. But this particular operation is four hours long and it’s very onerous. There is a lot of effluence that your heart has to flush out.”

Jean asked. “What would you tell your mother?”

He laughed. “You’re not my mother.”

Jean pressed for an answer: “Well, I’m somebody’s mother.”

The doctor paused and then said: “I would tell my mother ‘no’. I can almost guarantee that you would have a stroke. No telling what that would mean.”

That was about four years ago. Jean didn’t have the operation. We bought Tylenol 1 on the way home. A month later, the anesthesiologist phoned Jean on his cell phone to see how she was doing. We had secured a prescription for Tylenol 2. She referred to him as “a guardian angel.”

From then on, Jean and I found ourselves in and out of our doctor’s office and going from hospital to hospital. On advice from our doctor, Jean tried many pain killers, even medical marijuana. In February of 2017, we were sent by our doctor to Victoria Hospital. We were processed quickly by the triage nurse and moved to a private room where we were met by two young doctors who spoke directly to Jean: “You’re in the process of dying. There are four options. You can keep on going from hospital to hospital. That’s obviously not working. You can come into comfort care here. And we’re going to arrange that. You might get into palliative care at home. And then there’s the fourth option: MAID.”

We’d never heard of any of these services, especially MAID. It was like falling through the rabbit whole into Alice’s Wonderland. We had known for some time that Jean was dying. And we had talked openly about it to one another to the point that we couldn’t figure out why our doctor and the hospital doctors weren’t more up front about it. If we knew, how come they didn’t? After all, death is a part of life.

And so Jean and I were both relieved to have these two young doctors talk openly with us. Jean asked one of the doctors if he lived nearby. It always threw me off when she did this. She had this weird knack for reading people, figuring out what was important to them and touching their hearts. As it turned out, he had just purchased a new home not far from the hospital. As a result, the two doctors and Jean chatted briefly about how nice the neighbourhood was. Stuff like that.

Then Jean looked at me and I nodded. I knew what she was wanting. She asked the doctors: “So you will be the doctors getting me into comfort care? And you will be the ones doing something for my pain? “They agreed to admit her and supervise her medication. It was important to Jean that they make this commitment as she hated hospitals but she liked them and trusted them. She added: “Good. Then I am also asking you to help me make an application to MAID.”

True to his word, the doctor who lived nearby by visited with Jean a week or so afterwards when she was settled into her private room. The private room proved to be very necessary as it was always crowded with flowers, family and friends. I brought Jean a selection of lounging clothes from home and I was there from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm to control the traffic from visitors and so that we could have our meals together. At the suggestion of one of the doctors, we brought in a CD player and had music with our meals. We made ourselves pretty much at home.

While in the hospital, Jean was interviewed three times by two teams of professionals from MAID. The teams from Maid included a doctor, a nurse and a social worker. The one team interviewed Jean and me for about an hour. Then the second team interviewed us two or three days later. I asked if our two sons could be present for this second interview. As we had a private room, this was done easily. Our two sons came prepared to argue in favor of their mother’s life. In doing so, they realized the inevitable and became fully supportive of Jean’s decision to engage the services of MAID. The two teams then met and conferenced with one another. The first team returned for a third meeting to tell us that Jean qualified due to her being terminally ill and that she could choose her date. The team leader was Dr. Kim Wiebe, a very compassionate professional. The family’s support – from our sons and their wives through to our granddaughters and even our great granddaughters – was outstanding. Jean had hidden her pain but for those close to her, there was always a suspicion.

Also while in hospital, Jean was interviewed by a trained volunteer from Dignity Therapy. It consists of helping a person review their life situation and become more comfortable with their dying. Jean and I did not think that she would make it out of the Victoria Hospital. In fact, she gathered our family and gave away some of her jewellery.

Then after three weeks in Victoria Hospital, Jean rallied. It was completely unexpected. She was released from the hospital into palliative care at home. It seemed to have been a combination of the doctors laying in the right combination of opioids and Jean’s determination. Added to this, Jean insisted that she had an “ace in the hole”, that is, she could call MAID when she needed to. Another factor in her rallying was the interview with trained volunteer from Dignity Therapy. Jean called the transcript of the interview: “her story.” She had asked for ten copies. Then she had me run another ten copies at Staples; then ten more. I think there might be two left. She wanted her experience shared to help others. And gave copies to almost all of her visitors and to the palliative care nurses.

Palliative care was excellent. We had nurses visit two and sometimes three times a week. And we had doctors visit to adjust Jean’s medication at least three times. Needless to say, Jean made friends with them all. It was what she did in life, make friends. We had a 24/7 phone number and if needed, a nurse would visit off-hours. The working motto of the Palliative Care team is: “to keep patients as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.” Every team member is fully committed to this. Initially, Jean and I thought she would be coming home for two months. Their coordinator, Mary Ascot, is outstanding. With the help of the Palliative Care team and Jean’s determination, we turned it into nine. We were very grateful. We used the time to prepare ourselves. Jean wrote her own obituary. It was in the first person. She planned her own celebration of life. Meanwhile, she continued to battle her pain. The hip had deteriorated to the point of “bone on bone” as Jean described it. Yet she managed to enjoy and be energized by the constant flow of visitors. Even some of staff from Victoria Hospital visited.

And we had fun. One night at 3:00 am when I was helping Jean to the bathroom, she got ahead of me. She was on oxygen 24/7 and let her hose trail behind her. It caught in a chair leg. I said : “Hold it, Jean.” She waited, her back to me, while I untangled her hose. Then I said: “You’re free, Jean.” I heard this little chuckle of anticipation that she always had when she was about to tell a joke. I thought: “Oh no, not at three in the morning.” She raised her hand very slowly until they were above her head and then she snapped her fingers in the air. She called out: Free at last. God Almighty, I’m free at last.”

She had this uncanny ability to read people. We had a regular nurse. When she wasn’t available, another nurse would visit on her behalf. This particular nurse was new to us, very cheerful as were the others. She looked to be in her forties, very knowledgeable and experienced. She introduced herself and chatted amiably for a few minutes while she set up her laptop computer and accessed Jean’s file. When she looked up to begin her interview, Jean interrupted her. “You look about the right age. Have you heard of the Sweet Alibi?” Our second oldest granddaughter is the lead singer with a very popular trio of singers called Sweet Alibi. She has sung with group since high school. The nurse was shocked. She blurted out: “Don’t tell me that you’re Jessica Rae Ayre’s grandmother! I’ve been a fan of hers for years. We’re even Facebook friends.” The nurse looked at me. She was dumfounded. I just shrugged to confirm that yes, we were Jessica Rae Ayre’s grandparents. But if the truth were known, I, too, was dumfounded.

All of the nurses spent nearly over an hour listening intently to Jean and me before making recommendations for Jean’s ongoing care that they typed into their computers for the next person. The visits of the nurse who was a fan our granddaughter’s singing group were even longer. But I cannot say enough about Palliative Care. It truly lived its motto of making people as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. It is a medical model that makes loving and caring…and listening…a priority.

On Monday, December 18, 2017, several doctors and a nurse from Palliative Care team met with us. The doctors wanted to try a new regime of drugs but when Jean asked them about her heart, they said that it was worsening more rapidly than expected. It was up to Jean.

We discussed the situation after they left as we had so many times before. The next morning, Tuesday, Jean phoned MAID and talked with Dr. Kim Wiebe, the team leader from MAID. She agreed to meet at our apartment the next day. Afterwards she said to me: “We can’t be greedy. We have our love, always. We’ve been blessed with a good life and a wonderful family. I feel fulfilled.” We phoned our two sons, Anthony and Ramon, to invite them and their wives to the meeting.

Wednesday morning, Dr. Wiebe and Tanis Newsham, the social worker from MAID, and members of our family arrived. We knew the team leader Dr. Wiebe and Tanis Newsham well having met with them three times during the interview process. There were hugs all the way around. Jean and I had developed great respect for them not only as compassionate professionals but also as good friends or as Jean and I always called people who we felt close to, Kindred Spirits. Our relationship with Dr. Wiebe in particular was light hearted and positive so not surprisingly, Dr. Wiebe started out by smiling warmly and saying: “I’m surprised…and pleased…that we didn’t hear from you before this.” We told Dr. Wiebe that we, too, were grateful that we had made out so well in Palliative Care. “But it’s time,” Jean added without hesitating.

Because we wanted to have Jean’s medical assistance in dying performed at home and not in a hospital setting, it was fairly easy to arrange and Saturday morning, December 23, 2017, was set as the day. Jean wanted our family to attend along with some of her closest friends. Jean had already had one of her close friends bring her several new dresses to try on for the occasion. She had chosen a red, long sleeved top with black pants and red earrings to match her top. She wanted the long sleeves to cover the IV tubing taped to her arm for the three injections. Our family helped with phone calls and arrangements for guests.

On Saturday, December 23, 2017, the MAID team arrived at 10:30 am and set Jean up for the procedure while I waited with the visitors in a room provided by the Portsmouth staff. Jean had had the MAID team position her in her favorite armchair and fifteen of us, close friends and family crowded into the living room around her. She spoke to each of the fifteen guests gathered around her, individually as well as collectively. I sat beside her and held her hand. The doctor and our sons were on the other side.

There were tears, of course, but also laughter and happiness. Jean presided over the event. I sat by her side her holding her hand. She called each person forward to spend a few private moments with her. Jean kept it a joyous occasion in keeping with her anticipated celebration of her life. She urged everyone present to reflect on the happy time that we had all had together and to be grateful. She assured them that she was at peace within herself and fulfilled. Jean had previously asked our granddaughter, Jessica, to sing her favorite song SMILE – the Steven Tyler rendition. Jessica sang it acapella. Also at Jean’s request Jessica sang SMILE several weeks later at the Celebration of Life held at the First Unitarian Church of Winnipeg. When Jean asked Jessica to sing SMILE at these two occasions, Jessica asked: “You want me to sing SMILE twice?” Jean shot back: “Of course, I won’t hear it the second time.”

Finally, it was my turn to spend a few private moments with Jean. We had already spent the few days earlier preparing one another. We leaned toward each other to touch foreheads. Jean spontaneously began the mantra that we had repeated together nightly: “Look for beauty in all things,” Jean said. “Expect love at all times” I replied. “Give from the heart,” she continued. “And be grateful for life itself.” I said. Then we both smiled and said: “And SMILE”.

Dr. Wiebe asked her again by way of a legal requirement as much as a part of the process, whether she still wanted the assistance in dying. Jean said “yes” quietly but firmly. Then we said our last words. Dr. Wiebe began the injections. There are three injections – a sedative, an anesthetic and a muscle relaxant. The person goes to sleep, then into a coma and the heart stops.

As a sort of Postscript, let me quote from the book: “Jean and I believed that each act of loving and caring connects us not just with one another but with the enormous breadth and depth of our humanity as we live it out in our given lifetimes. We believed that we fulfill ourselves not just as individuals but as members of a species here on earth. Jean and I often talked about our somehow being part and parcel of a vast and unfathomable sea of energy that sustains our humanity, one person to another and one generation to the next. The synchronicities were signposts along the way. We tried to understand it but we decided instead to simply try to live it. It was us. It still is.”