Joanne Tubbs Kelly wants nothing more than to grow old with her husband, Alan, and live happily ever after. Their fairytale disintegrates when Alan is diagnosed at 69 with multiple system atrophy, a rare, fatal, neurogenerative illness. If he must die young, Alan wants to die a gentle death that he defines himself, a death that leaves his dignity intact. Told with affection and spiced with humor, “Walking Him Home” is Joanne’s tale of coming to terms with her husband’s imminent death and choosing to help him in his quest to end his suffering. Poignant and heartfelt, this is one woman’s story about loving extravagantly—and being loved in kind.
Praise for Walking Him Home
“Inherently engaging, emotionally moving, thought-provoking and memorable, Walking Him Home is a story that lingers long after you’ve finished reading it. . . A unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library collections.”
—Midwest Book Review
“Joanne Kelly is an accomplished writer, telling the sweet, honest, and engaging end-of-life story of her beloved husband. Walking Him Home lays bare the joy and grief, the sweet rewards, and the unavoidable costs of two people loving each other deeply and well to the end. Kelly does not spare us the frustrations and fears of being caregiver, advocate, and lover, and the poignant events of her husband’s passing carry lessons for us all.”
—Barbara Coombs Lee, President Emerita of Compassion & Choices, author of Finish Strong: Putting Your Priorities First at Life’s End, and coauthor of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act
“Joanne Kelly has written a timeless memoir about the joy of midlife romance, the give and take of marriage, the sheer wonder of loving someone completely, and the courage it takes to help your partner say a final good-bye after a terminal illness strikes. Compelling and unforgettable.”
—Pete Earley, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness
“Joanne is to be commended for sharing a very personal view on the impossible choices facing patients and families living with, and dying of, a serious and progressive neurologic illness. There is much here for patients, families, policymakers and healthcare providers to take in and wrestle with in coming to terms with medical aid in dying.”
—Dr. Benzi Kluger, the Julius, Helen, and Robert Fine Distinguished Professor in Neurology at University of Rochester School of Medicine and president of the International Neuropalliative Care Society
“Joanne Tubbs Kelly skillfully narrates an intimate memoir about helping her husband end his life using Colorado’s End-of-Life Options Act. Kelly provides a moving illustration of the ethical tensions at play and makes an important contribution to the conversation on death and dying.”
—Kerry Landsman, medical ethics consultant
“Joanne Tubbs Kelly has written a sweet love story and narrative of the beautiful but difficult journey with her husband, Alan. This story adds to the witnessing that helps us understand MAID as one of the paths to gaining a death that is gentle on us and those around us.”
—Jean Abbott, MD, retired physician and medical ethicist
Walking Him Home is a testament to the depth of human resilience. Faced with a rare, excruciating terminal illness, Kelly’s husband Alan resolves to deliver himself from this world — with her help. Heartbreaking, honest, and stirring, Kelly’s memoir will resonate with anyone who has ever lost someone.
—Anita Hannig, Ph.D., author of The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America