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IMPERFECT ENDINGS – A provocative story by a daughter confronted with her mother’s wish to die in dignity

Zoe Fitzgerald Carter – a Columbia School of Journalism graduate – lives with her husband and two daughters in California. Her busy everyday life is disturbed when her mother Margaret informs her one day about her wish to “end things”. Margaret no longer wishes to live with her Parkinson and starts making arrangements. One of those is that she wants her three daughters “to be there when she does it”.

The book flaps describe further:

Stunned by the prospect of losing her mother and concerned about the legal ramifications of participating in her suicide, Zoe does what she can to convince her mother to abandon her plans. But for nearly a year, Margaret will talk of nothing else. Calling Zoe at random times of the day, she blithely asks which would be better: overdosing on morphine or Seconal? Getting help from the Hemlock Society or doing it on her own? And when would be a good time — February or May? Or how about June?

Shuttling between her family in California and her mother’s house in Washington, D.C., Zoe finds herself increasingly drawn into her mother’s “exit plans.” She helps Margaret procure a lethal dose of drugs from a local psychiatrist and endures a bizarrely funny encounter with Bud, the Hemlock Society’s “Caring Friend” who seems a little too eager to help Margaret kill herself. Anxious to maintain her role as “the good daughter,” Zoe finds herself in conflict with her older sisters, both of whom have difficult histories with their mother.
As the three women negotiate over whether or not they should support Margaret’s choice and who should be there at the end, their discussions stir up old alliances and animosities, along with memories of a childhood dominated by their elegant mother and philandering father.

Capturing the stresses and the joys of the “sandwich generation” while bringing a provocative new perspective to the assisted suicide debate, Imperfect Endings is the uplifting story of a woman determined to die on her own terms and the family who has to learn to let her go.

Comment: Zoe Fitzgerald Carter wrote a very readable book about this event, which stirs up so much in her life: her realization she is going top loose her mother; her fear to be juridically responsible when helping as a “good daughter” should do; family matters that surface in such situation. She uses the flash backs to underline the basis of the emotions that rise all the time.

Imperfect Endings
A Daughter’s Tale of Life and Death
Simon & Schuster, March 2010
ISBN-10: 1439148244
ISBN-13: 9781439148242