Eugene Weekly : Letters : 8.19.10


Thank you for publishing “Taking Mom Home” (8/5). Its raw emotion personalizes the challenges accompanying end-of-life choices, especially the Death with Dignity choice. The DwD law was approved for the second time in 1997, yet few Oregonians are personally acquainted with someone who chose DwD — even fewer have been present when someone hastened. Misinformation persists even though rigorous research studies and ODHS record-keeping confirm the law’s viability and highlight the gratitude of those who choose it.

Compassion & Choices of Oregon has been helping Oregonians sort through end-of-life options since the law was passed — encouraging them to enroll in hospice and obtain pain management before making any choice. If the person chooses DwD, trained CCO volunteers help the person navigate the stringent 15-day process during which two physicians must confirm the terminal diagnosis, with one physician agreeing to prescribe the medication; the client must complete a written request witnessed by two people (one a non-family member); and a pharmacy must agree to fill the prescription.

CCO volunteers are available to be with the client and family during the hastening process. Two anti-nausea medications are taken an hour before the Seconal (a lethal dose of sleeping medication) is self-administered. The Seconal capsules are opened, the powder mixed with 4-5 oz. of liquid or applesauce, and the medication taken in approximately two minutes because sleep quickly ensues — a gentle way to slip away.

CCO is headquartered in Portland with satellite teams in Eugene, Bend and Medford. For information call (503) 525-1956 or visit

Susan Smith RN, MS, MA, Southern Willamette Client Support Team of Compassion & Choices of Oregon, Eugene 


Holy schmoley! I read Ben Fogelson’s “Taking Mom Home” (8/5) yesterday afternoon. It’s extremely rare that I am simply flattened by someone’s writing talent, but this guy! What courage with words, what a tapestry of intelligence and heart. Am at a loss for adjectives to truly nail it here. But I went to bed last night, savoring the experience of his writing, realizing, for the first time, the nature of artistic signature! Pulitzer material.

Bobbie Ingersoll, Eugene


Ben Fogelson and EW, thank you for sharing insights into the last few days of Susanne Schumann’s life (8/5). Ben, thank you for being at your mother’s side to help and comfort her during a time of profound transition. In your richly textured, illustrative and inimitable style, you poignantly and eloquently allowed readers to get close to an experience that we all face. Some of us are caregivers to our parents and, of course, we will all die. We are curious about what comprises these experiences. You helped us to understand.

I knew your mother in the 80s, delighted in her keen intelligence and the “proud and loud” and “venomous” aspects of her personality. We played tennis a few times. She won. And I loved her eggs Benedict. She is still bigger than life to me. All best wishes to you and your family.

Nena Lovinger, Fall Creek


Maybe there’s a cranky reader out there somewhere who will find fault with Ben Fogelson’s moving and extraordinarily fine story, but I hope not. Reading his account was like grabbing a live wire and not being able to let go. When I finished reading I still couldn’t let go. 

Mr. Foglelson clearly demonstrated the connection between truth and beauty and you deserve congratulations for attracting a writer of his caliber. Thank you so much.

Ted Dobson, Eugene


Seamus Corbett’s letter (“Subjective Mysticism,” 7/29) defines faith as “irrational belief.” It may be true that faith does not rest exclusively on logical or material evidence. And it may also be the case that faith can be blind or irrational (i.e. accompanied by the loss of mental clarity and good sense). But when balanced with intelligence, faith gives us the energy and commitment to pursue our highest values. We can all benefit from intelligent faith, for it is not possible to support ultimate concerns simply with logic or material proof. As Teilhard de Chardin put it, “Faith has need of the whole truth.”

We would like to invite Corbett, and all others who might be tempted to cast all faith in a negative light, to join us for the 6th Annual Interfaith Community Breakfast on Tuesday, Sept. 21, (International Peace Day) at the Hilton. UO President Richard Lariviere will be our guest speaker on the topic of “Dharma & Karma.”

For more information, call 344-1425. Purchase tickets on line at

Lane Institute of Faith & Education (LIFE) Steering Committee, Dan Bryant, Ruthann Duncan, Len Hockley, Barry Nobel


Dearest neighbors, Bob Saxton and Jimmy Spoor (letters 8/12): I see by your responses to my letter that your traditions, whatever they may be, clearly do not support prayer of any kind. Therefore, it seems you were unable to hear my words and unable to understand them. Hence, you missed my point entirely. Try replacing the word “pray” with “hope” and see if you can get it that way. I choose that word to emphasize the depth from which I wish Eve all safety, blessings, and compassionate understanding, not to imply or endorse any particular spiritual path. Whatever that reveals about my nature, I doubt most would call it “convention-addicted.”

And for the record, “praying” no more implies “church” than “God” implies “Christianity.” Many traditions pray; many words exist for the Divine; many paths involve a wish for happiness.

I wish you understanding. And I also pray for it.

Gail Karuna, Eugene


I generally concur with the Viewpoint offered by Arnold Ismach in “Down the YouTube” (8/5), but I have to ask: So what’s new? Haven’t we heard this before? Don’t we Harper’s Magazine readers and NPR listeners continually encounter similar lamentations? The fading of old-media paradigms in the face of new technology and the distressing effect this is having on communities seems easy to point out. The problem is evident, but solutions are not. 

Continually wringing our hands over the loss of newspaper readership and the waning of solid investigative journalism isn’t apt to solve the problem. It seems that new voices joining the now-familiar chorus of grief are not particularly useful at this point, unless they offer realistic solutions or hope or provide a new take on the situation.

Austin Bruce Hallock, Corvallis


I keep reading and hearing how Eugene is trying to be such a bike friendly city. According to Kryptonite (makers of the U-Lock) Eugene is rated sixth on a scale of 10 for most bike thefts. See 

My friend and I decided to bike to Whitaker Block Party last week instead of trying to find parking, etc., and because it was a gorgeous evening for a bike ride. We also just assumed that there would be secure bike parking. Not so! There were bikes locked to fences, sign posts and globs of bikes locked together. We ended up wasting about a half hour walking around trying to find a safe place to leave our bikes, which the best place turned out to be a chainlink fence outside the Ninkasi patio. When we were ready to leave, others had done the same thing, and we could barely get our bikes out of the mess. Art in the Vineyard had a great bike valet area, which was great! It was a pleasure to donate a few bucks to them to keep my bike safe. 

I’m also frustrated with the lack of adequate bike racks downtown. If businesses want people to visit downtown, put a bike rack in front of your place!

Monika Barry, Eugene


Thank you for having the courage and heart to publish Ben Fogelson’s story “Taking Mom Home” (8/5). And to Ben, I am awed and grateful for his willingness to share his experience, written with such gut-honesty and immense love. 

Sue Bitterling, Eugene