Deb Howland-Murray read the recent “06880” story about Lynda Bluestein — the local woman who will be the first non-resident to take advantage of Vermont’s law that allows people with terminal illnesses to end their own lives — with interest.
Deb is a longtime Westporter (and current Black Rock resident) who has a personal interest in the issue. She writes:
For all of us who read the moving post about Lynda Bluestein, there’s much more to her story — and the stories of many other folks in her situation.
My husband was one of them. He died a painful death in an institution, rather than peacefully in his beloved home on Cross Highway as he had wished. He died waiting for Connecticut to offer the same option Ms. Bluestein will take advantage of in Vermont at the end of her life.
Deb Howland-Murray drew this portrait of herself and her husband Dave from a photo, about a month into his illness.
A Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport member, Lynda, who is terminally ill, has received special dispensation to avail herself of Vermont’s Aid in Dying law.
Connecticut has not yet added ourselves to the 11 jurisdictions that have passed Aid in Dying legislation, but that may soon change.
As someone who grew up in Westport since the age of 15 months and lived there most of my life, I think it’s important that Westporters know about our state’s Senate Bill 1076: An Act Concerning Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill (SB 1076).
Two weeks ago, SB 1076 was successfully moved forward, from the Legislature’s Public Health Committee to the Judiciary Committee. Over the course of the 15 years that Aid in Dying has been proposed in Connecticut, the bill has been honed to address concerns posed by our legislators.
According to a 2021 GQR poll Aid in Dying is now supported by 77% of CT voters across demographics of race, ability, age, gender, religion, educational attainment and political affiliation.
Westport’s State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and Senator Cece Maher belong to that 77%. I do too.
Lynda Bluestein and her husband Paul. She will be the first out-of-state resident to take advantage of Vermont’s Aid in Dying law. (Photo courtesy of NBC Connecticut)
My aim here is not to convince, but to ensure that Westporters know the basic facts of a bill that ultimately affects every Westporter.
No one is ever required to choose Aid in Dying. But if it is an individual’s choice to obtain relief under SB 1076, these requirements must be met:
Be a Connecticut resident of at least 1, year aged 21 or older
Be terminally ill, with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live
Be mentally capable, and making an informed healthcare decision
2 written requests are required, with a 15-day waiting period between the first and second. Two people must witness each written request.
Prescribing physicians must comply with medical record documentation requirements, and make records available to the state Department of Jealth.
Key provisions include:
The individual must be able to self-administer the medication.
Two physicians must confirm that the person is terminally ill with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live, mentally capable and not being coerced.
A terminally ill person can withdraw their request for medication, not take the medication once they have it, or otherwise change their mind at any point.
The attending physician must inform the requesting individual about all end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care.
Medication cannot be prescribed until mental capacity to make a healthcare decision is confirmed by a licensed mental health specialist.
Physicians who participate and comply with all aspects of the law are given civil and criminal immunity.
Life insurance payments cannot be denied to the families of those who use the law.
No physician, health provider or pharmacist is required to participate.
Unused medication must be disposed of according to specified state and federal guidelines.
Knowledge is power. The Judiciary Committee will vote on SB 1076 soon, the outcome of which will determine whether or not it reaches the General Assembly.
I urge you to think about this bill. Whatever you feel about it, let Westport’s legislators hear from you.
Lynda Bluestein is a longtime and very active member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport.
She has terminal fallopian tube cancer. At 75 years old, time is short. But on Tuesday she received peace-of-mind news.
She reached a settlement with the state of Vermont. She will be the first non-resident to take advantage of a law that allows people with terminal illnesses to end their own lives.
Ten states allow medically assisted suicide. Until now though, only Oregon permitted non-residents to do it. Click here to read about Lynda’s successful legal battle, and what it means for her and others.
Lynda Bluestein and her husband Paul. (Photo courtesy of NBC Connecticut)
The Westport Country Playhouse Script in Hand series of play readings is enormously popular.
A new spinoff — the “Mic in Hand” music series — should be too.
The first event is Ari Axelrod’s “A Place for Us: A Celebration of Jewish Broadway.”
The award-winning show honors the songs and stories of Jewish composers, and their contributions to the American musical.
The Playhouse says: “Beloved melodies and lyrics by the likes of Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Schwartz and Carole King will transport you to the streets of the theater district, your bubbie’s Shabbos table, or your corner of the sky.”
The kickoff is May 15 (7 p.m.). All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.
Irving Berlin: One of Broadway’s greatest Jewish composer.
Rick Tripodi was the beloved music director and organist at Green’s Farms Congregational Church.
That organ was close to Rick’s heart. As a teenager in 1965, he attended its dedication.
Classically trained, with a master’s degree in organ performance from Juilliard, Rick designed the refurbishment of the Peragallo/Walker organ during the church’s recent renovation project.
Sadly, he died just 2 days before the instrument was reinstalled.
A memorial concert on Sunday, March 26 (4 p.m.) features David Enlow on the organ, and a 16-voice professional choir. They’ll perform Duruflé’s Requiem — a piece Rick requested a few days before he died.
The concert will be livestreamed, then uploaded to the church’s YouTube channel.
Click below to see the organ’s dedication. The video begins at the 9:00 mark.
Leave the car at home
Leave the driving all to us
Door to door service
How’s that for a haiku? (It’s by Diane Lowman, Westport’s first poet laureate.)
Wheels2U Westport — the Westport Transit District’s on-demand, group ride, door to train platform shuttle service — is launching its 2nd annual poetry contest. The goal is to promote its Wheels2U commuter shuttle.
This year’s contest features haiku (last year’s was limericks).
The form originated in Japan. They’re unrhymed poems consisting of 17 syllables, in 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.
Gift certificates to Westport restaurants of their choice will be given to the top 7 entries. First prize is $100 gift certificate; 2 second prizes winners are $50 each; 4 third prize winners receive $25 gift certificates.
Wheels2U for you
We ferry you to the train
Worries left behind (Diane Lowman)
Westport residents and commuters to here can use the Wheels2U Westport app to request a pickup between 5:45 and 10 a.m., and 4 and 9:30 p.m. They’ll be taken to or from the Saugatuck or Greens Farms train platform and their front door, anywhere in Westport.
Pickups should be requested 20 minutes before you would normally leave to drive to the station. The fare is $2 when paid with the Wheels2U app.
The bus to the train
Take Wheels2U for the ride
Easy, no hassle.
For more information about Wheels2U, click here. For more information about the Westport Transit District’s services for the elderly and people with disabilities, click here.
The haiku contest deadline is March 27. Entries (as many as you like) should be sent to email@example.com, and must include your name and address. Click here for the official rules.
Staples High School’s March Students of the Month are seniors Matthew Saw and Shanti Wimmer, juniors Juan Nieves and Isabella Rivel, sophomores Lily Hultgren and Aidan Zer, and freshmen Peter Cordts and Charlie Curran.
The program recognizes “students who help make Staples a welcoming place for peers and teachers alike. They are the ‘glue’ of the community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students who keep the high school together.” Nominations come from teachers.
March Students of the Month (from left): Lily Hultgren, Isabella Rivel, Matthew Saw, Charlie Curran, Peter Cordts. Missing: Shanti Wimmer and Aiden Zer
VersoFest 2023 is a music festival — and much more.
All day long on the weekend of April 1-2, experts and educators will offer 1-hour-workshops for creative and curious attendees.
TeachRock, Wall of Sound class(April 1, 11 a.m.): The Grateful Dead’s Wall of Sound was the first large-scale line array used in modern sound reinforcement systems. TeachRock’s Bill Carbone and Gina Machado explore: What is a PA system? How does it work? And why should we thank the tinkering scientists of the Dead entourage for much of how we experience live music today?
The workshop will use Anthony Coscia’s scale model replica of the “Wall of Sound” that will be on display (and cranking tunes) throughout VersoFest.
Master class workshop & Rock Photography panel (April 1, 11:30 a.m.): Katie Settel is known for her evocative performance images as the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater’s photographer. Settel takes workshop participants through her journey, influences, and techniques.
Screenwriting master class (April 1, 2 p.m.): An overview of screenplay structure, focusing on the 90-page feature film script.
Songwriting Master Class
Songwriting master class (April 1, 3 p.m.): Whether you are a performing songwriter or just want to learn how to start a song, you can find your voice and turn your story into a musical moment. TV/Media Production Master Class
TV/Media Production master class (April 2, 11 a.m.): Producer/director Annette Jolles teach this master class, with Verso Studios crew call members. She has earned 17 Emmy Awards, and was the first female director for “Live from Lincoln Center.”
Click here, then scroll down for full details, including more events and registration information.
“A Toast to the Trees” (Arbor Day weekend: April 29). Both beer tasting and kids’ activities! “Tasting on the Trails” offers staggered entry (no snarky joke, sorry) between 4 and 5:30 p.m; the beer garden and food trucks are available from 4 to 7 p.m. Also included: lawn games, a campfire and s’mores. Tickets are $35 for adults, $15 for those under 21. Click here to purchase.
A “Cocktails & Clams” sunset evening on the Sound fundraiser for Harbor Watch — an Earthplace program — is set for Saturday, June 10 (5 to 7 p.m.). It’s dockside at Copps Island Oyster on Norwalk Harbor, with an unlimited raw bar, hors d’oeuvres, open bar, live band and silent auction. Tickets will be available next month.
And finally … as noted in the story above, Irving Berlin is one of America’s most famous Jewish composers. He’s known and loved for songs like this:
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