Katy Butler - Knocking on Heaven's Door

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 7:00pm

Like so many of us, award-winning writer Katy Butler always assumed her aging parents would experience healthy, active retire­ments before dying peacefully at home. Then her father suffered a stroke that left him incapable of easily finishing a sentence or showering without assistance. Her mother was thrust into full-time caregiving, and Katy became one of the 24 mil­lion Americans who help care for aging parents. In an effort to correct a minor and non–life threatening heart arrhythmia, doctors outfitted her father with a pacemaker. The device kept his heart beating but did nothing to prevent his slide into dementia, incontinence, near-muteness, and misery. After several years, he asked his wife for help, telling her, “I am living too long.”

Mother and daughter faced a series of wrench­ing moral questions: When does death cease being a curse and become a blessing? Where is the line between saving life and prolonging a dying? When is the right time to say to a doctor, “Let my loved one go”?

When doctors refused to disable the pace­maker, sentencing her father to a protracted and agonizing death, Katy set out to understand why. Her quest had barely begun when her mother faced her own illness, rebelled against her doctors, refused open-heart surgery, and instead met death head-on. Knocking on Heaven’s Door ($25.00), a revolution­ary blend of memoir and investigative reporting, is the fruit of the Butler family’s journey.


51 Tamal Vista Blvd
94925 Corte Madera
ISBN: 9781451641974
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - September 10th, 2013

In this visionary memoir, based on a groundbreaking "New York Times Magazine" story, award-winning journalist Katy Butler ponders her parents' desires for "Good Deaths" and the forces within medicine that stood in the way.