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January 17, 2006

Carol's new crowd

Stopped by the Botanical Center to see who Carol's hanging with these days.

Her newly arrived bench is the one closest to the door, on the left as you walk up: "Carol J. Loretz -- June 6, 1950-February 28, 2005."

Right next to her is Frank Krone and Karen Krone. Carol and Frank have a lot in common, even if their time at the D/A didn't overlap. She was in news and Frank in advertising. May have some interesting conversations.

'cross the way there's a bench honoring Gary W. Brown. She'll know him, when he shows up. I'm sure she covered at least one Arrowhead Ranch Roundup.

Didn't recognize any of the other names. There's Dorothy Searl, who was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. And Alice M. Williams, bench compliments of her family and friends. Harvey L. Fritch is at the end, on the other side.

Oh, yeah there's "The Tri-City Dahlia Society, 1941-1999." If I'd read this list to Carol last year, she'd have laughed out loud when I got to "Tri-City Dahlia Society." She'll enjoy those folks immensely.

Won't take her long to know all about each of them, down to which color of dahlia is the favorite of each society member, and which of the others wishes everybody'd quit talking about dahlias. Won't be long either, before they'll all be saying she's their best friend.

She'll have them organized, too, with to-do lists of things needed to make things a little better; and she'll be gently -- or not -- pushing things along.

Carol hung with a lot of different crowds; enjoyed them all. They all enjoyed her. No doubt the same's true this time, too.

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I thought of Carol, too, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision sustaining Oregon's "death with dignity" law. First, of course, the court was right in deciding that an obscure federal regulation, as interpreted by whoever happens to be attorney general at the moment, doesn't trump a state law that was passed in response to two referenda by the citizens of the state.

Beyond the narrow legalities of Gonzales vs. Oregon is the real point: It's no business of government, at any level to decide how an individual makes the ever-so-personal choices that arise as death approaches. To assume and act otherwise is both arrogant and fatuous.

Carol's choice was to play the hand out, to the very last card. She used the morphine sparingly, just enough to make the pain bearable without clouding her mind to the point she couldn't enjoy (yes, that's the right word) those last days. But if she'd decided the game wasn't worth the sputtering candle, and had asked for the full bottle, I'd have unhesitatingly handed it to her.

Her call. Not mine. Not her sister's. Not that of the other friends who sat with her. Not your's. Not the doctor's. And sure as death, not the government's.

Her call. Just as it must be mine, or your's, if we find ourselves in her situation.

Posted by jcb at January 17, 2006 09:16 PM

Comments

John,
Rita and I have been talking and thinking about Carol a lot lately. It doesn't seem like it's been almost a year. I still can hear her laugh.

I'm sure she is organizing things up there. Carol had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and details. She was a great person and always will be missed.

Posted by: Jackie at January 18, 2006 01:52 PM

John,
Good column. I'm glad I got to know Carol. Think about her often. One of the things she seemed not to tolerate was hypocrisy.
I get the feeling she wouldn't tolerate the hypocrisy taking place within the Bush administration - the call for small government, yet reducing the budget on the backs of the downtrodden who have no voice in Washington, and trying to push federal oversite over state's rights when it comes to Oregon's law.
People just seem not to care what's happening around them because they don't think it will impact them.
Then it does.
Your example of Carol's last days, and if she had made another choice, to end it fast, would have been her choice. Not John Ashcroft's or Alberto Gonzalez or Ralph Reed or Pat Robertson's or George W. Bush's.
I think our country is becoming a giant right-wing theocracy instead of a secular democracy.
I think Carol would still be making her voice known.
Steve

Posted by: Steve at January 19, 2006 10:48 AM

You got it right, John.
Dorothy Searl, by the way, was the mother to the Botannical Center's head gardener. I interviewed him once and liked him very much.
If the apple fell close to the tree, Carol will like Dorothy, too. It's nice to think of things this way. Thanks.

Posted by: Barb at January 19, 2006 12:15 PM

Very lovely and truly touching. I did not know Carol, but I can see she was well loved. And it captures in a powerful way the true immorality of the government, or anyone other than the individual involved, attempting to dictate how and when a person leaves this realm.

Posted by: TID at January 21, 2006 01:26 AM