Compassion & Choices Cocktails and Conversation
(read: death stories)
New York Social Diary (link at bottom)
Robert Matheson squires his grandmother, Ruth Buchanan, and her favorite dachshund, Cinderella, across the porch to receive guests for an event for friends and family to learn more about the work of leading national nonprofit Compassion & Choices.
Mickey MacIntyre, Compassion & Choices’ CPO, tells about the organization’s aggressive push to have active Death with Dignity Campaigns in 20 states by the year 2020.
Cocktails and Conversation on Expanding End-of-Life Choice at Beaulieu with hosts Ruth Buchanan and Bonnie Matheson
The Newport season saw its second event at Beaulieu — the summer home of Washington, D.C., doyenne Ruth Buchanan — this time sans orchestra and dancing. An intimate coterie of friends and family gathered on her 50′ wide slate porch overlooking the cliff walk and Atlantic for the cocktail hour to learn more about the work of leading national nonprofit Compassion & Choices. Its mission for the past 32 years has been to expand choice and improve care at the end of life. That includes making death with dignity — the medical practice of aid in dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults — a legitimate, open and accessible option. Currently, this option is expressly legal in five states, and Compassion & Choices is running campaigns to establish this basic human right in six others with a goal of 20 by the year 2020.
Ruth told her guests: “I watched both of my late husbands have terribly painful and drawn-out deaths because they didn’t plan ahead [by naming resolute healthcare proxies and completing comprehensive advance directives]. They hadn’t spoken to their families about their own deeply held end-of-life values and shared what truly living meant to them. I hope each of you — including my own children and grandchildren — gathered here will not make the same mistakes. Life for me is more than just existing, and I don’t want to be here if I can’t truly enjoy all of it — especially dancing!”
Ruth, still “tripping the light fantastic” well into her 90s, has been supporting the death-with-dignity movement since 1996, when late husband was in serious decline. She sought out and received sound advice from Compassion & Choices end-of-life consultants. This spring, she was initially approached with a request to meet with the organization’s Washington, D.C.-based staff to discuss the possibility of hosting an event in Newport. With her signature wit, a rye smile and a gimlet eye, from across the room she jokingly quipped, “Tell them, “I’m not ready for them yet!”
However, despite two other events on her dance card that day, she held court with a drink in hand while admonishing her guests to “live life and get as much enjoyment out of it as you can. Make absolutely sure your family – especially your children – knows what you want when that’s no longer happening. Compassion & Choices is here to help us. Please join me in supporting them.”
Ronald Fleming, his guest Phoebe visiting for the season from England – and Leilani Brenner discuss the lively debate currently in process in the House of Lords on an “Assisted Dying” bill modeled after the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. Phoebe shared that Lord Carey, the recently retired Archbishop of Canterbury, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu both support the assisted-dying legislation.
Jared Hughes [in purple bow tie] is Compassion & Choices’ Major Gifts Officer. Mickey MacIntyre [in black suit] chief program officer of Compassion & Choices, discusses death-with-dignity legal strategy with Ronald Lee Fleming, Eugene Bowie Roberts, Jr. (a member of the Vanderbilt Family) and his wife, Lynn Springer Roberts, visiting from (a soon-to-be death with dignity campaign state) Maryland.
More photos at New York Social Diary…scroll down to 2/3 of that page.