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She Was Old; She Deserved To Die

She Was Old; She Deserved To Die

A few days ago I came across some news that I was sure I must have misunderstood.

I hadn’t.

A Freeport, Long Island, teenager charged with crashing a van into a house, killing a woman gardening, told police she didn’t feel so bad after learning the victim’s age.

Kayla Gerdes, 18, was quoted in a written statement to police saying: “The thing that made me feel not so bad was she was old.” She added, “I mean, 70 years is a long time to live.”

The accident happened on Tuesday, April 20. Police say Gerdes was high on painkillers at 9 am, when she drove a van onto the front lawn and into a house in Hempstead, Long Island, killing homeowner Dr. Rebecca Twine-Wright, 69, who was mowing her lawn. The crash apparently took place after Gerdes took over the wheel from her boyfriend because he was driving too slowly. Other background information on the teen: she didn’t have a driver’s license, had recently been kicked out of a drug rehab program because her mother’s insurance wouldn’t pay for it, and was on her way to court that Tuesday morning to face grand larceny charges for stealing jewelry from her mother.

Today is Mother’s Day, and my heart goes out to Chauncey Twine and his sister Nancy. I didn’t know their mother, but feel that I got to know her by reading some of the comments in her online memorial book: “I was deeply saddened by your mother’s tragic passing. She was truly a blessing among us and a great mother who loved her children deeply” reads one. Here’s another: “I am deeply saddened at the loss of this special woman. I vow to work, tirelessly, on her behalf.” And this: “Know that your mom was a great women, mother, friend, and doctor to many. She will truly be missed. As a native New Yorker and ex-patient of hers, I will miss her laugh and sense of humor.” Let’s hope Chauncey and Nancy can take some comfort from these words.

As Chauncey Twine heard Gerdes say repeatedly on that Tuesday morning that she was sorry, he replied, “She didn’t deserve to die this way. If you’re truly sorry, if you really mean it, then admit to your guilt, plead guilty, tell the judge you want to serve the maximum penalty available under the law.”

“Respect for one’s parents is the highest duty of civil life” according to a Chinese proverb. What bothers me most about the Kayla Gerdes story is her ability to dismiss her elders so easily. But she must have learned it from someone. As a society, we are compartmentalized: communities of young families, others of middle-aged people, and the retirement homes where our grandparents are shunted off to.

But if children are not taught to respect the elders in their family, then those elders will become old and useless in the eyes of the children, just like Kayle Gerdes views Rebecca Wright-Twine.

On this Mother’s Day, let’s re-affirm that every life is equally valuable, from the very old to the very young.

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Judy Molland

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295 comments

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9:09PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Life is precious no matter how old you are...that young girl is just callous on top of it all.

7:04AM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

Perhaps someone might say to Kayla, "You seem to have nothing going for you, why do you deserve to live?"
My grandmother always told me to respect my elders. My mother worked in a nursing home when I was very young and brought me in to visit the patients once or twice.
The girl in this article needs professional help.

5:38AM PDT on Jun 24, 2010

Janice P:

On behalf of ethical health care workers everywhere, I would like to apologize for the bastard who refused to help your mother because he believed "she had lived long enough". I understand your frustration because I've had similar experiences. My father had a stroke almost a year ago and I had a concern about one of the medications they gave him in the hospital. I persisted in wanting my concern dealt with, but nobody bothered to talk to me about it. I also had two home care clients admitted to that same hospital for injuries suffered during falls at home. They were admitted to the surgical floor at this "hospital" and they went home with more injuries than what they were admitted for. This hospital "prides" itself for the "level of care" with which the doctors and nurses treat the patients, but if the administrators paid me $1 000 000, I wouldn't consent to having any medical procedures performed there. Because of my experiences, I will insist to have any surgery performed in a hospital in a larger centre an hour from my home, as my experiences in this hospital were much more positive than the one half an hour from home. The doctors there are specialists and their attitudes toward patient care are much more positive and patient-centred. They seem to give a damn. The "doctors" and "nurses" at the "hospital" where my father was admitted really couldn't care less.

2:49PM PDT on Jun 17, 2010

This is definitely a concern for me. My own nieces and nephews have not been taught this by my brothers and their wives. I don't send them gifts either because of this. Bless the Twine family.

10:20AM PDT on Jun 16, 2010

I have had my own personal experience with this issue. My mother was in the hospital in December with a gallbladder infection. All that was required to save her life was a laproscopy (three tiny punctures, used to remove the infected gallbladder). The hospital "doctor" to whose care she was assigned, screamed - yes, SCREAMED - at me on numerous occasions (on the phone and by her bedside), "She's 90 years old she's lived long enough". He refused to do the procedure.

She fought for every breath she took until her last one. It took her one entire month to die. It was a painful and horrific death. He waited for her gallbladder to rupture and to infect her blood, her brain, and all of her organs. Her body bloated terribly (with 50 lbs. of water), so much so that she was almost unrecognizable. He was determined to let her die.

The hospital never stepped in, even though I complained to everyone, including the Medical Director, until threatened to get a restraining order if they did not get that doctor off of my mother's case and keep him away from her. By that time, it was too late to save her life.

My mother was buried the day before her birthday. She was the last family I had.

That psychopath, who is licensed as a doctor, not only deliberately killed my mother, but he also traumatized me. I have had nightmares repeatedly in which he is screaming at me that he is going to kill my mother, and that I cannot stop him. Then, I see her die all over again.

10:20PM PDT on Jun 13, 2010

My Mom is 88 and great and all 6 of us see her living for a very long time. Age is a number not a death sentence.
pat

5:25PM PDT on Jun 5, 2010

This brat was evidently not taught compassion and respect for life and for elders. Both of my daughters have been taught (by example) all of those things. What I'd like to know, Is what her parents response to her statement was. I would be tempted to disown her.

5:22PM PDT on May 24, 2010

Just a brute

5:27PM PDT on May 20, 2010

"She was old; she deserved to die". This ignorant bitch needs to do some community serve in a long term care facility. On second thought, no. She'd likely cause more harm to the residents, and would more than likely get away with it. It seems that this young woman's attitude is more widespread than we might like to admit. I work in long-term care, and our government is cutting back on long-term care funding. Whenever a resident loses control of their bowels, we have to clean them up using only facial tissues or toilet paper and "soap" (making more work for us). When I first started there, we had disposable wipes that did a hell of a lot better than what we're stuck with now (the wipes are more durable than facial tissues and toilet paper). But we're discouraged from bringing in our own supplies when we don't have any provided supplies. Do our parents, grandparents and great grandparents deserve this treatment? I don't think so.

8:44AM PDT on May 19, 2010

I live in NY State. In my Mom's family in Trinidad, my Granny was a 100 years old when she died and I wish I could take it all back. I took her for granted. My Nanny in Belgium who is maybe in her early eighties I did not take her for granted she was another granny/Mama for me when my Mom was busy. She is now in a home but she put herself there because she lost her husband and she felt lonely. She feels more happpier now and I wish to see her soon. She doesn't know how long she will live. I don't want to think about it and I hope she lives long enough and maybe see my future children when I go back to Belgium. I love old, elderly or older people, you can learn a lot of from, especially the wise one who are not bitter about life circumstances and experiences.

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