Chronicle: A detailed narrative record or report.
People have been asking me since the conclusion of Conservatorship of Wendland in August 2001, if I plan to write a book about my experiences — and encouraging me to do so. Until now, I have resisted those suggestions for many, many reasons.
But the events of the past few weeks involving Terri Shiavo and her family have inspired me to begin this blog as an alternative to publishing a book or law review article. This will
documentchronicle my six-year experience litigating the Wendland case and serve as a resource for other attorneys litigating such cases, families who find themselves having to make painful, difficult end-of-life decisions, and members of the public who want to learn more about the issues.
I am also going to reveal information about “the players” in this and other cases. As will become apparent, the culture of death is being promoted in this country by a small group of devoted, determined people whose names appear repeatedly in the case records, media, and “scholarly” analyses of the cases.
All entries in this blog must be read with an understanding that I have distinct opinions and approached my work in the Wendland case, as I approach this project, from a very specific viewpoint: I am a Christian and I believe in the sanctity of all human life. My beliefs informed and focused efforts to save Robert Wendland from a cruel death by dehydration and starvation, and impact my feelings about what is happening to Terri Shiavo.
Much has happened since the day I wrote that almost two years ago and I have chronicled a lot of those events, along with my feelings about them, in this forum. Terri’s death did not end the debate about end-of-life decision-making any more than my client’s legal victory (but loss of her beloved son) here in California did. My client, Florence Wendland, died, as did this country’s real “Dr. Death,” my nemesis, the infamous Ronald Cranford, M.D.
I was called upon, along with my sister, to make decisions about my own mother’s medical care and treatment when she lost the capacity to instruct her physician and caregivers. When she appeared to be developing pneumonia in October 2005, we made the excruciating decision not to treat her symptoms with antibiotics, in accordance with her written directive that she not be allowed to linger in a debilitated state. She died peacefully on October 13, 2005, just a couple of weeks shy of her 89th birthday, and it was a blessing considering that it had been a long time since she had recognized her daughters or grandsons. The process of grieving my mother, which I chronicled here, has been far different than what I experienced after losing my father.
I’ve written three posts so far chronicling the Wendland case and my involvement in it. I titled those posts “The Cost of the Call” because, as I explain in the first, I was undeniably called to litigate that case and the cost to all involved was extremely high. Those three posts can be read here:
The Cost of the Call (Part One): Reflections in Conjunction with the 5th Anniversary of the Wendland Victory
The Cost of the Call (Part Two): Reflections in Conjunction with the 5th Anniversary of the Wendland Victory
The Cost of the Call (Part Three): Reflections in Conjunction with the 5th Anniversary of the Wendland Victory
I will finish chronicling my experiences with that case, slowly but surely, in the coming months. For instance, I will tell you about the attorney who assaulted me during a deposition a few months after I secured a victory for my clients from the trial court. (He wasn’t associated with the case, but was apparently friendly with my opposing counsel whose name he interjected into his rantings.) I will tell you about what it was like arguing before the highest court in this State. (I was one of the last lawyers to argue before the Justice Stanley Mosk, who died just a few weeks after the Wendland oral argument.) I will tell you how some people embrace me and some still shun me because of my involvement in that litigation. I will tell you what it was like dealing with the media during that time. I will chronicle how I almost lost my eyesight as a result of the stress of fighting to keep Robert Wendland alive for more than six years. Since so many of you read my tribute to my father on the anniversary of his death — and left me so very many lovely comments which I sincerely appreciate — I will chronicle here how he struggled with heart disease and share with you how I came to understand years later that I was meant to be there with him at the moment of his death because the Wendland case was in my future and there were important life lessons my father was meant to teach me even in death in order to prepare me for what was to come.
I have chronicled some fun things, too. For instance, in addition to the weekly memes in which I have been participating for the past couple of months, I’ve chronicled the genesis of my friendship with Clint Ritchie. (Any former soap fans out there?) There is also a chronicle here of my passion for music and, more particularly, my flute.
One thing that I have not chronicled here is a close family member’s struggle with cancer over the past eight months or so. In the coming months, I may write about my feelings concerning that and how I have dealt with the situation.
As you can see, so much chronicling has been completed, but so much remains to be done as 2007 unfolds . . . I hope you will continue on this blogging journey with me, as there is much that I learn from you via your comments and my visits to your blogs. I am amazed, awed and humbled every day by your insights, your willingness to share them, and your creative talent. I’m so glad that we have all found each other and are creating these cyber-chronicles together.