9-19-11: To Be Responsiblehttp://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wypr/local-wypr-986712.mp3]
Dudley Clendinen is an award-winning author and journalist who lives here in Baltimore. A former reporter and editorial writer for The New York Times, he found out in November, at age 66, that he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
There is no known cure for ALS, and once a person is diagnosed, they usually live between 1.5 to 3 years.
Over the past few months, Dudley has been speaking with Tom Hall about living with ALS. In the last conversation, Dudley talked with Tom about the things he WANTS to do before he dies. This time, he talks about the things he HAS to do before he dies, such as sorting through all his belongs, paying off his debts–and making funeral arrangements. He says it’s essential in order to have “a good death.”
“If you’re considering, as I am, the likelihood of choosing myself what the best time to die is, and not waiting for the disease to take me in a slow, mean, uncompromising way, I can’t just go off in a way that’s sloppy and selfish. Just because it feels to me like the time to go, meaning it’s not fun anymore–it’s painful–that doesn’t mean I can give myself permission.”
Dudley says he has to “eat the spinach first. I’ve got to be responsible to [my daughter] Whitney, to my family, to my sister, to my friends, and to my creditors. To the people whom I owe things. I want to write letters, to give things that are meaningful to me, I want to do the heavy lifting when I can, so Whitney doesn’t have to do it when I go.”
You can listen to all of our conversations with Dudley Clendinen at this link.
The Baltimore Walk to Defeat ALS is taking place next Sunday, September 25. You can register to take part here.