She didn’t want to go…

Stikine river, British Columbia, Canada.
Stikine river, British Columbia, Canada.
Hairpin bend on the road to Telegraph Creek.
Hairpin bend on the road to Telegraph Creek.

A GUEST POST from my aunty Dr. Bindu.

Last summer, I worked on assignment as a neurologist 28 miles West of Milwaukee, in Summit, Wisconsin which borders the larger town of Oconomowoc (where the waters meet). One of the nurses in the Neurology Department was Amy Petersen.

Tall, elegant, extremely capable, and helpful, she impressed me with her efficiency. I was grateful for her expert guidance in dealing with the Clinic’s labyrinthine methods of operation.

A few weeks later Amy had to leave to see her 83-year-old mother Doreen who was ailing. To reach Doreen’s home, Amy had to first fly about 2,500 miles across the North American continent to Vancouver, BC. Then a 2 hour flight on a 32 seater single engine propeller plane (‘puddle jumper’ Amy called it) to Smithers and a 9 hour drive to her mother’s home in  Telegraph Creek.

Wikipedia describes the road as “beautiful but rough, with 112 km of gravel, steep gradients (up to 20 % or a 20 foot vertical rise in 100 horizontal feet of road), narrow passages along canyon walls with no guard rails, and sharp-angled switchbacks (hairpin bends)”. In what may be an understatement the article goes on to advise that “the road should be driven with caution and awareness”!

Telegraph Creek lies near the sangam (confluence) of the Tahltan and Stikine rivers. The word Stikine comes from the Tlingit name Shtax’Héen or Cloudy River.

Before Amy left for Telegraph Creek she told me her mother was very ill and did not want modern medical care. “What will they do for me?” she asked. I agreed with Amy’s mother’s sentiments as I feel that modern medicine more often intervenes to prolong rather than relieve suffering as life begins its inevitable descent to death. Amy left for Telegraph Creek and contact with her was difficult. I completed my assignment before Amy returned to Summit.

This spring, I returned to Summit for another 3 month stint. When I met Amy I asked her how her mother was. “She didn’t want to go” Amy replied. I was a bit puzzled. Amy went on to say that her mother had got better in September but come November she had become very ill again. Amy had returned to Telegraph Creek as had her 10 siblings. As earlier, Doreen refused to seek active medical intervention and died surrounded by her family on December 20, 2012.

Read the next 2 parts here and here.

Doreen's grave.
Doreen’s grave.
The Sangam (confluence) of the Stikine and Tahltan rivers.
The Sangam (confluence) of the Stikine and Tahltan rivers.
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