Published On: Wed, Mar 26th, 2014

A Perfect Pair

Michael-H.-Gora-284x336By Michael H. Gora

This column is not about divorce, to the contrary.  One of my favorite photographs captures two synchronized divers.  I call my photo “A Perfect Pair.”  Tom and Naomi Shirley, of Broward County, pulled off a similar feat this month when, after 43 years of marriage they passed away, nearly simultaneously, by virtue of heart attacks while he was in the hospital, and she rushing there to see her husband one more time. He was 83 and she 75.

My mother and mother-in-law, 96 years old and 95 will read or see the Shirley’s storey and probably comment on the “youth” of the couple, point of view being everything.  My wife’s reaction will be, “Perfect,” and I agree. To leave this earth simultaneously would be saving the other the angst of grief for the other, magnified by all that has to be done at death.

The Shirley’s death ensemble will save their son Troy a decade or so probably watching the failing of one parent or the other physically and/or mentally.  While neither the State nor citizens usually choose the time, place and manner of their deaths, in retrospect it is clear that our elders often fantasize a particular exit, one of them surrounded by loving family and painless passing with full cognitive awareness to boot.

In the movie Logan’s run, the planet upon which Logan lives is running out of space, water, and food causing the “State” to terminate its citizens at age forty for the sake of its society.  Your physician knows that the care of the elderly/sick is a cause of great physical pain to his loved ones and great economic strain on the individuals, their heirs and society alike.

Certainly we are not at the time to re-invent Logan’s Run but, perhaps, we ought to revisit allowing more choices for the elderly than to just fall apart with pain and cost to their families and society in general.

Hat’s off to Tom and Naomi Shirley.


Michael H. Gora has been certified by the Board of Education and Specialization of The Florida Bar as a specialist in family and matrimonial law and is a partner with Shapiro Blasi Wasserman & Gora P.A. in Boca Raton., and may be reached at (561)477-7800.



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