For 140 Years, Each Generation of A Multi-Physician Family Has Prepared for End of Life Early.
Because Stuff Happens.
PHOTO: Anna Reinstein, Beatrice Kavinoky
Who would be better prepared to understand how to be ready for end of life at any age? Who can better appreciate that anything can happen at any time?
Families, like Larry Kavinoky’s, Coda Alliance Treasurer and Board Member, do. His family roots contain physician ancestors back to 1880, who recognized death as a part of life that warrants preparation early on. The result: succeeding generations now carry a built-in comprehension of the importance of “Choosing Your Own Way” before end-of-life. They see it as a way to embrace life — a great example for those of us who don’t have generations of medical personnel to learn from.
The family took to heart stories about great grandmother, Anna Reinstein, M.D the first woman physician in Western New York in 1880. Dr. Reinstein was followed by Larry’s grandparents who also made a name in the healthcare industry. Grandfather Nahum Kavinoky was one of The City of Hope founders in 1920, receiving a medal for his contribution in 1950. At the same time, grandmother, Nadina Kavinoky, M.D was almost thrown out of the American Medical Association (AMA) for practicing social medicine to benefit her patients. As the story goes, luckily, one of her patients complained to her own husband who just happened to be the AMA’s Medical Director. Guess who actually ended up being kicked out of the organization? The story goes on to tell about how Dr. Kavinoky was so dedicated, she insisted on seeing patients in outlying areas – even with a shortage of automobiles during WWII. But people do come through. She was so well-known by that time that Mrs. Mayer of MGM studios gave her a car to enable her to visit her patients more easily.
It’s no wonder that Larry’s family is so solid in dealing with death and dying that they calmly and comfortably accept the fact that no one lives forever – best to be prepared. It’s no surprise that Larry serves on the Coda Alliance Board – and is dedicated to easing end-of-life conversations. Or that his mother, a former elementary and Sunday school teacher was asked to beta test Coda’s new online Go-Wish card game.
Bright, sharp and alert at age 85, Beatrice Elaine Kavinoky whose mother in law was an obstetrician/ gynecologist, had prepared herself and her family long before she agreed to test the online game. The former Sunday school teacher poured through “Final Gifts: Understanding The Special Awareness, Needs, And Communications Of The Dying” by Hospice Nurses, Maggie Callahan and Patricia Kelly. She followed this with her own Coda Alliance Go Wish card “game”—a pioneering method to make end-of-life conversations comfortable and valuable enough to ease death and dying.
“Thanks to Coda’s Go Wish, which focuses on quality and not quantity, it made mom’s decision-making, her family discussions and finally her passing much easier for all of us,” explained Larry.
And, his mother was so pleased with the professionalism, the value, the humanity and the depth of the cards that she immediately agreed to test the new online version. With her knowledgeable background, her calm attitude and her belief in the importance of being prepared by “Choosing Your Own Way,” she worked closely with the Coda Alliance and Reach and Teach teams. When Craig Wiesner and Derek Kikuchi of Reach and Teach, which was contracted for the online cards, came to her house they were a bit anxious. Taking in stride their continuously looking over her shoulder, Beatrice managed to calm the whole group while delivering exceedingly valuable input.
“I believe all websites needed to be ‘idiot proof’,” Larry continued. According to the Board member, that’s a part of what his mother looked for during the beta test along with how well the cards performed.
Later, when Beatrice Kavinoky died quietly at home at age 90, per her wishes, she was surrounded by family with friends and loved ones all calmly singing to her – just as she envisioned.
Now, each generation continues to follow the idea of embracing life by choosing their own way in preparation for end-of- life. Most, according to Larry, find comfort and security in knowing their wishes will be met. Larry’s wife, who passed 4-years ago used Go Wish to be specific about her wishes – and in fact, although living in California had her ashes scattered in Eugene. OR. Larry is already prepared and has made his wishes clearly known.
For more information on end-of-life conversations, including the GoWish card game for use anytime, visit the Coda Alliance Website, www.codaalliance.org.