Longing for a 'Better Life' in Death

Tracy Ross and Tom Morgan i i

hide captionTom Morgan (right) told his story to Tracy Ross at the StoryCorps booth in Murray, Ky.

Tracy Ross and Tom Morgan

Tom Morgan (right) told his story to Tracy Ross at the StoryCorps booth in Murray, Ky.


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Tom Morgan cherished his father as "probably the finest man I ever met." The decision to help end James Blaine Morgan's life was perhaps the most difficult one Tom Morgan ever made.

Morgan's father was on life support in intensive care.

"The doctor came along and says, 'We can keep him alive. We may get him back out of this; we may not.'"

"But my dad was a logger and there was an old statement, 'If the lead team can't pull the wagon, don't hitch it up.'"

Morgan said he told the doctor, "That's his statement, that's my statement. Unplug the man. Let him die with dignity."

Morgan said the decision haunted him for years.

His friend Tracy Ross asked Morgan if he was afraid of dying.

"I look forward to death," Morgan said. "[It's] a matter of curiosity. I just think there'll be a better life."

Asked if he had any regrets, Morgan said he could list a dozen.

"But I always had the theory that if you don't try it, when you go to the grave, you'll say, 'I could have.' When I die, I'm going to go to the grave and say, 'I did. I might not have done it well, but I did it.'"

Morgan, a jazz trumpeter, died on April 26, 2007, after a battle with emphysema. It was his 71st birthday.



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