HodgePodge: Carol Checks Out

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HodgePodge: Carol Checks Out

By Charlie Hodge.

By now, Carol has checked in, checked off and checked out.

Brave? Cowardly? None of our business? Regardless – it certainly makes me go hmmm. It is also certainly so Carol.

I miss her already.

If the world is lucky we meet a number of Carol’s in our lifetime. Often we fail to see what a gem or pearl they truly are. How they make our world a better place, and how they make us take a bit more of a look at ourselves, what we do, and why we do it. I learned from Carol, she learned from me – we supported each other in many of our causes. At the end we reconnected again – once again not surprising or hard to comprehend.

Typical Carol Taylor was continuously doing what she thought was the right thing to do, inspiring, challenging, engaging. She was always a bit of a rebel, a marcher to her own beat and on January 15 she signed a piece of paper one more time and then died. Simple (yet not) as that: stress was removed, anxiety over, and most important – pain gone.

Her demise today is part and parcel of her own hard work as Carol is one of many across the land who long lobbied and argued for assisted suicide, the right to die by lethal, legal means in the case of those facing terminal diseases or death. The controversial Bill C14 allows for medical assistance in ending one’s life.

“I am so grateful for that ruling. Dying with Dignity and MAID are all connected to it, Charlie,” Carol explained on the telephone as we took turns gasping for air so the other could talk (and laughing about it). Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID) is part of the local IHA program and is the route for me. One can always change their mind,” Taylor explained.

Those ‘checking in’ and then ‘checking out’ can opt for either an oral or an injection exit. Carol had chosen the injection. She was going to have two close friends with her. It took less than three minutes.

Her decision to die now did not come easy, however the realist in Carol saw the answer for herself when a recent return of cancer with a vengeance confirmed Carol was ready.

“I had a double mastectomy and things were going well for a while but after two and a half years it came back. I was told I had limited time and that was a while ago. I’m 80 and I have had a good run.

“I want to thank Canada for opening its doors to me so long ago and for all we have. Coming to Canada from the U.S. during the Vietnam war was the smartest thing I did.”

Indeed her knowledge and willingness to stand up and say thing when things are wrong have had an impact here in the Okanagan. She connected with folks such as Peter Chattaway, Pat Munroe, Amber Nederlick, Lloyd Manchester and others in environmental issues such as protesting the use of 2,4-D and herbicides in our lakes, streams and school yards. The list goes on.

“I remember the one protest we had with canoes and a young protester who wanted to be involved jumped in the front of my canoe holding a ‘no 2,4 -D’ sign. A police boat showed up and they were going to charge me with ‘aiding and abetting a minor’ what a joke,” she recalled with a chuckle.

I remember well when she fought with me over the mining of uranium and storage of tailings in the hills surrounding Kelowna, our lives literally threatened on more than one occasion. When others disappeared Carol remained.

“Lots of things have changed since I arrived here at age 23.” After she finished Vancouver General Hospital work as a registered nurse she worked in Manitoba and Kamloops briefly then moved to Kelowna and eventually wound up teaching at schools in different areas.

Even then she pushed the envelope.

“Back then things were different. I got in trouble for teaching Yoga to kids in PE.” She also got real heat for teaching students to make Origami paper cranes as a Remembrance Day project and singing songs about peace.

“One parent wrote a letter complaining I was having a communist influence on the children.”

In her final days Carol’s attention is on closure and on encouraging others to help improve and support C14, expand the legislation to be more inclusive of who qualifies, and other such issues.

“Stay alert, take a part, be involved,” Carol says.

That’s Carol Taylor – making change literally to the end.

Thanks for being in this world and especially in mine Carol. Bless you.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.

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