yesterday. After some weeks of restless and sometimes violent behaviour he eventually went quite peacefully. Modern medications can do a lot to help with that. On the reverse side of course modern medicine kept my uncle alive far longer than he might otherwise have lived. What the answer to that is I do not know.
There are other elderly people I know who dutifully take medications in the belief that the doctor knows best and that they are expected to live as long as possible. I do not know whether that is the right attitude or not. I do think the quality of life also matters.
When we first moved into this house there was an elderly couple who lived next door. They were in their early 80's when we first knew them. They still took their caravan to Queensland each winter. Then towing the caravan became too much and they just drove and stayed at motels on the way. Eventually (after their 65th wedding anniversary) it became too much to go anywhere.
They missed the annual trip up to the warm weather. I knitted the old man an extra heavy pullover so that he could stay warm as he worked in his garden. He was not doing too badly but his wife, always a little strange after the birth of their last child, was now more confused than ever.
I remember the day the old man came back from a visit to the doctor. He looked puzzled and a little worried. He had been told he had "mature onset diabetes" and the doctor had given him a long list of things he must now avoid eating. He showed me and shook his head over it. He was 91 by then. "Cat, if I cannot have these things now, when can I have them? I don't want to live forever."
A year later they moved into a local nursing home. His wife died soon after. I went in to see him now and then. I would take some of the forbidden chocolate. Naughty of me? Probably. He enjoyed it. He was not interested in the diet the doctor had said he "must" follow. He felt he was too old for that.
The same was true of my uncle. He enjoyed a glass of wine. He was addicted to chocolate. Many people tried to stop him from buying both wine and chocolate. He was told they should not be part of his diet. He hated that and it just made him more determined to consume both.
A friend told me she had visited an elderly relative recently. He was bedridden and unable to do anything for himself. He could not even speak. A nurse came in with some porridge for him - but no sugar on it "because he is diabetic" the nurse said apologetically. My friend looked at her relative and he looked at her. My friend said she would help with his meal. When the nurse left she pulled out one of those little packs of sugar handed out with coffee. She sprinkled it on top and helped him eat the porridge. Naughty? Yes. Kind? Yes. He died a few days later and she likes to think that he enjoyed the porridge. Certainly she said he smiled at her and there was laughter in his eyes.
If, at the end of life, there are only little things that can be enjoyed then denying them has to be the ultimate cruelty.
It makes me very glad that the last time I saw my uncle I was able to give him some of his favourite dark chocolate. Diabetic or not, he needed it.