Do Go Gentle is a nobly written biography and autobiography. Mr. Stookey, 83 years old, is found lying face up on the floor next to his bed. The diagnosis: He has suffered from a severe stroke, the right size of his body from head to toe is paralyzed, and he is unable to speak or swallow. With no signs of improvement, the family is faced with a decision – to move Mr. Stookey to a nursing home or bring him home to die by withholding food and water.
Do Go Gentle is intriguing and mildly disturbing. Many questions come to mind such as: What other solutions could have been made? Did the son (also the author of the book) do his best in accurately upholding his father’s wishes based on the little information his father provided? Or did the son assume his father’s wishes and interpret “clues” to justify his decisions? What were these so-called clues? Could they have been interpreted differently? Were Mr. and Mrs. Stookey and the daughter, Lori, in full agreement with the son’s “plan”? or did they simply go along with what was already decided? What does the story really reveal?
Although recounting real events, this book reads like fiction — captivating and suspenseful. Why did Mrs. Stookey have a blank look when the nurse asked for Mr. Stookey’s advanced directive? Why did Mrs. Stookey, the son, Chris, and the daughter, Lori, not know Mr. Stookey’s emergency arrangements and yet . . . . how does the ten-year family doctor whom the son never met previously, presume to explicitly articulate Mr. Stookey’s wishes? What really was the “Hemlock file” and why didn’t the son share this file earlier on? Lastly, who exactly is Mr. Stookey and why is his life story, in and of itself, so inspirational?
I highly recommend Do Go Gentle for anyone who has a loved one. I also recommend this book as a primary source and required reading for college courses dealing with humanities and ethics.
Throughout the book, the son reveals love and admiration for his father. My favorite quote: ‘I must have been three or four years old . . . I’m holding onto [my dad’s] head and we’re both smiling at the camera. We look happy.’ – Chris Stookey
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