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The Last Days of Bruce Llewellyn
Old 05-09-2010, 10:02 AM   #1
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The Last Days of Bruce Llewellyn

Interesting story in NYT of J. Bruce Llewellyn, son of immigrants who succeeded in his quest for the American Dream. His final years turned into a battle between his wife, who said she was honoring his wishes, and his friends, who said they were honoring his wishes when they became his guardians and fought her in court.
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...when he began losing weight and the guardians authorized a feeding tube, his wife strenuously objected. She cited his living will, which explicitly barred tubes and other artificial life-prolonging measures. “What happened to, ‘First, do no harm’?” she wrote angrily to one doctor...She told Dr. Griffo to stop telling her husband that he was healthy enough to go home. But, as she wrote later, Dr. Griffo replied each time, “What about what Bruce wants?”

Mr. Llewellyn, meanwhile, complained to friends that he felt trapped in the nursing home.

His daughter Lisa, from a prior marriage, who is an advertising executive, recalled one visit with her sister, Alexandra, a former television reporter who is married to the writer Tom Clancy. Their father leaned over and said repeatedly, “Get me out of here,” Lisa said.

“He was as clear as a bell about that,” she said.
Story found here (may require free registration with NYT): Fighting Over the Living Will of J. Bruce Llewellyn - NYTimes.com
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:51 PM   #2
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Interesting story. My take, and it could be wrong, was that the wife was happy to leave him in the nursing home when he could have been living in the comfort of his own surroundings. I thought the friends did the right thing in this instance.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:08 AM   #3
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Interesting story. My take, and it could be wrong, was that the wife was happy to leave him in the nursing home when he could have been living in the comfort of his own surroundings. I thought the friends did the right thing in this instance.
+1 I am a fanatic about living wills and DNRs. I want to be shot like a horse when I am beyond recovery. But this sounds like a wife ready to put the old dog down and inherit the pile. Once he got to the point that he had to dump her and appoint his friends as guardians she was rightly out of the picture.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:37 AM   #4
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What an interesting guy and what a sad story. Boy! He surely stayed married to the wrong gal....that's scary. I'm on the side of his friends who seem to have cared for him greatly enough to want to follow HIS wishes.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:52 AM   #5
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Boy! He surely stayed married to the wrong gal....that's scary.
You called that one right. She was his third wife, so I guess he had a track record of poor choices in spouses.

One of my former co-workers had a sideline as an attorney specializing in family law - mostly divorces and child custody. His track record on spouse/girlfriend choosing was about as bad as Bruce Llewellyn's - couple that with his other job as a divorce attorney and he didn't have much trust in any future wife making choices for him. His living will named a former buddy from the Marine Corps as the person who made all those choices for him.
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I didn't leave him anything in my will, so he won't have any monetary incentive to off me too soon. I hope that brotherly love will give him the incentive to pull the plug when he should. But I promised him that if he screwed it up I was going to come back and haunt him. And I made sure he knew it wasn't some kind of cutesy Ghost Busters stuff, but Poltergeist meet Jason Voorhees and brings the Dawn of the Living Dead with him.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:36 AM   #6
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Aw, come on, give the gal a break; recent threads show we all have things we're good at and things we suck at. Oh, never mind I'm on the wrong thread, have to move to a sidewalk table as Elvis has left the cafe.
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Old 05-10-2010, 09:11 AM   #7
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This same scenario was on "Law and Order"--turned out the "victim" was framing the current wife.
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Old 05-10-2010, 10:03 AM   #8
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This same scenario was on "Law and Order"--turned out the "victim" was framing the current wife.
That was a good one, it also addressed issues of immigrant racism.
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Old 05-10-2010, 10:56 AM   #9
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Interesting story and very lucky that the man was able to communicate and his friends took action.
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Old 05-10-2010, 12:38 PM   #10
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If there is enough money, you can contest almost anything.

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Their father leaned over and said repeatedly, “Get me out of here,” Lisa said.
When my grandmother, who was in the the hospital after 27 strokes, protested the plan to take her home, said “I want to really go home,” we knew what she wanted but did take her home to die. Is, “get me out of here” clear? I don’t think any news story could give us enough information. I don’t know much of anything about feeding tubes but my aunt spent five months with one before dying and her brother, who visited her every day, regretted authorizing it. Married almost 30 years and we should believe that friends and children knew Mr. Llewellyn better?
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Old 05-10-2010, 01:56 PM   #11
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Married almost 30 years and we should believe that friends and children knew Mr. Llewellyn better?
I'm going to ask if you read the entire article I linked to. Because that question was answered to my satisfaction by what I read.

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Over the months, his condition and mobility improved. He joked with orderlies, flirted with nurses and began demanding to go home.

Dr. Griffo told him that he had recovered enough to leave. But Ms. Ahmad-Llewellyn said that he was not well enough, and that she had undertaken apartment renovations, including adapting it for a wheelchair, that would take months.
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In late 2007, Mr. Llewellyn finally enlisted an old friend, Donald F. McHenry, a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University and former ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter, to help him.

“Bruce’s question to me was, ‘How is it that somebody can put me into a place like this and I have no recourse? I am here, and I can’t do anything about it,’ ” Mr. McHenry recalled.
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Her decision followed an independent review of the case by a court-appointed lawyer, Paul Mederos, who met eight times with Mr. Llewellyn to ascertain his desires.

Mr. Mederos testified that Mr. Llewellyn felt abandoned, wanted his friends to take over his affairs and was upset at his wife’s refusal to let him leave the nursing home.

“His words at one point were, ‘She just left me there to die,’ ” Mr. Mederos testified.
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Old 05-10-2010, 02:06 PM   #12
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I'm one that doesn't believe that a long marriage necessarily puts a spouse in the position to make the right decision for an ill spouse. We saw that last year, when FIL was on his way out. Dr was quite firm, he needed the care offered at a nursing home. His wife of 53 years insisted the best place for him was at home. We could all see what he needed, but MIL knew if he went to a nursing home she would be going as well, and that is also where she needed to be. Needless to say that FIL died before leaving hospital, MIL continues to live on her own, but is currently hospitalised after falling and we are in the position of trying to convince her that she needs a nursing home, she cannot look after herself.
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Old 05-10-2010, 04:38 PM   #13
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I'm going to ask if you read the entire article I linked to. Because that question was answered to my satisfaction by what I read.
Yes, I did read it and haven’t looked at it again, my last line in that post was rhetorical, not an expression of my opinion. I would make several points here: first of all, --this is an excellent topic for this forum as many of us have or will face this kind of situation and may receive a lot of flak no matter what we decide. --Interesting that you quote the remodeling item whereas I see her cancer as an immediate problem complicating her decisions. --We have the benefit of a (possibly slanted) news story which IMO cannot be the full story; when Ms. Llewellyn was dealing with it, she did not have the benefit of our hindsight. I found it annoying that the New York Times referred to him as Mr. Llewellyn and most often referred to her as his wife rather than using an equal title. -- I think it is absolutely wonderful that his children and friends butted in helped but, sometimes butting in is the way to go --but nothing about this story justifies my becoming judgmental against Ms. Llewellyn, and I’m trying not to. --The courts I have dealt with give very heavy weight to the length of a marriage, that’s just the way it is, and I agree it may not be fair.
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:15 PM   #14
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This may be a case where two people read the same thing and come away with different meanings.

Admittedly, the man had periods during which he wasn't capable of making sound decisions, but those were outweighed by the periods when he was quite competent. And in those latter moments he said "I don't want to be here."

It was his life, and as long as he was competent his decisions should have been respected. If his wife didn't feel like she could deal with being in charge of his care in their home, then she could have insisted that he hire the necessary personnel. Hell, she could have just moved out again and let him live his life, or end it, in the manner in which he chose.

But it was his wife that insisted that he sign the living will, it was his wife who fought the doctor's decision that her husband was well enough to go home, and it was his wife who also eventually fought being removed as executor of his estate.

When the physician in charge of his care said he was well enough to go home, his wife fought to keep him locked up.

I don't know why she did what she did, but I don't think that the desires and best interests of her husband were the only thoughts in her mind. But given her actions and the legal battle that ensued, I would say the money had something to do with it.

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I found it annoying that the New York Times referred to him as Mr. Llewellyn and most often referred to her as his wife rather than using an equal title.
I'm not going back to count and compare, but my recollection is that she was frequently referred to as Ms. Ahmad-Llewellyn.
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--The courts I have dealt with give very heavy weight to the length of a marriage, that’s just the way it is, and I agree it may not be fair.
That may be so, but evidently the court where this case was decided used a different standard. An impartial third-party spent considerable time with Llewellyn and reported the findings to the court, which decided to appoint his friends as his guardians rather than his wife. Eventually, even the judge went to visit him and found that Mr. Llewellyn wanted his wife out of his life - completely.

I think it worked out well in the end, he got what he wanted and spent most of his remaining months of his life living on his own terms. She got half of what she wanted - his money. The rest goes to a charitable foundation.
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:49 PM   #15
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If you want your eyes opened to how wives can want you dead, read the biography of Doris Duke (poor little rich girl from the famous Duke tobacco family). Her father had pneumonia (as I remember it) and her stepmother, his wife, sat with an old. thick fur on with him--with all the windows opened--until he finally died. She sat with him hoping he would mumble codes to where money was hidden, but he didn't. Talk about mercenary...that was even a worse case than this one.
When this stepmother died, by the way, she--who knew Doris absolutely adored her father--left her nothing but the old, ratty fur she wore when Doris' father was dying in that room with all the windows open. Lovely gal, eh?
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Old 05-10-2010, 06:57 PM   #16
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If you want your eyes opened to how wives can want you dead, read the biography of Doris Duke (poor little rich girl from the famous Duke tobacco family).
Or the case of Brooke Astor, which was referenced in the story about Bruce Llewellyn.

Brooke Astor News - The New York Times
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:10 PM   #17
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This may be a case where two people read the same thing and come away with different meanings....
I come away from it without an inflexible opinion, I’m not into soapbox debate. Perhaps I should say that the reason this thread is so interesting to me is that the article is quoting from legal documents which by nature are designed to persuade, in my experience some attorneys use stronger wording than others, and the guy had powerful friends. There are at least four stories here: the truth, the raw data the attorneys worked from (which in my judgment can be very raw in family cases), the text of the legal papers, and finally the article we get to read, which included quotes from interviews as well as quotes from the pleadings.

So what should be discuss that is relevant to this forum (and not sexist)? My mom had a living will and a DNR. I was horrified to be present when she was transferred from a hospital to a short-term nursing home. Horrified because IMO she clearly did not understand the DNR when asked about it for admission. As it turned out, the situation never came up but I was worried I would have to say “forget the DNR, she does want to be revived.”
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