Editor's note: Dr. Roger Malebranche -- retired chief of surgery at St. Clare's Hospital and a writer whose letters were often published in The Daily Gazette -- died January 17. Members of his family found one last letter that Malebranche never submitted. The Gazette now publishes the doctor's final words for print.
"I recently became aware that one of the main differences between youth, middle and older age is the ability to dream and the quality of these dreams.
When I was 20, I dreamed about travels, adventures, meeting that special person in your life, becoming a millionaire in today’s world. At 40, I dreamed about the education and future of my children, what I would do when I retired. My traveling dreams became less adventurous -- not the Amazon forests, Tahiti, the wilds of Africa or fishing in the Chilean Andes, but things more sedate like Paris, Rome, and Rio de Janeiro.
At 80, the dreams of traveling are pretty much dead, the children are grown up (I dream of the future of the grandchildren now -- but I wonder if I will see that). I dream of a week without doctors’ visits and unseen cardiac or other emergencies (after all, the old ticker stopped once already and four arteries had to be replaced in it).
I also dream of a good night sleep, a successful trip to the bathroom, a visit from old and cherished friends. And the dream of all dreams – a dream of peacefully dying in my bed surrounded by my loved ones.
I have been a physician for 50 years and I have seen too many painful, horrifying deaths not to have taken notice. I hope all of us realize that all of us are going to die and at least start taking notice of when and how we are going to die.
There have been a few letters in the Daily Gazette recently concerning euthanasia. I wish there was a government-sponsored program about that subject -- how we die, our choices in our way of dying."