LAST FLIGHT OUT:LIVING, LOVING, & LEAVING Phyllis A. Langton
Above all, Phyllis Langton's memoir, Last Flight Out: Living, Loving & Leaving, is a passionate love story, one that deepens as she and her husband George Thomas live their way into the experience of ALS, its unremitting losses and its surprising gifts, with dignity, keen humor, a fighter pilot's courage and a nurse's unsentimental pragmatism. "I know what's going to be on my death certificate. That's more than you can say," George tells her after receiving his diagnosis. How they are going to live the time that remains to them as a couple is also not in question, for they are equally committed to savoring every minute, respecting George Thomas's choices about what makes for a meaningful life, a meaningful death. Supporting her husband's wishes is a moral as well as emotional choice on Langton's part, and definitely not always an easy one. As a medical sociologist, she invites her readers into an open discussion of some of these choices through a thoughtful discussion guide. 248 pp. ISBN 978-0-9827262-2-8
Phyllis Langton, Professor Emerita, George Washington University, is the author of more than 25 books and articles. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA and is an active registered nurse, licensed from California for over 50 years. She enjoys volunteer work as a nurse with ALS patients. Her interest in creative non-fiction began in 2000 when her husband was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) and given six months to live. She kept a journal of their three-year journey until his death in 2003, which she has used to write the memoir, Last Flight Out: Living, Loving & Leaving. Three chapters of this memoir have been published in two anthologies: Illness & Grace, Terror & Transformation, and Love After 70. She is working on a second memoir, Sweet Abandon, the story of her childhood born in a Salvation Army Home and life in an orphanage. One chapter has been published in FAMILIES: The Front Line of Pluralism. She is a co-editor on the Wising Up Anthology, View from the Bed: View from the Bedside.
Langton has had as illustrious a career as anyone in academia, but she has
taken infinite pains now to write a different kind of book. Her story of her
husband's life with and death from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) yields many a
valuable lesson. . . . Here love and mortality, laughter and sorrow are all but
inseparable, and their inseparability may help lessen a reader's fear of death
and dying. Anyone who enjoys a deeply moving story will want to read this
wondrous, indispensable book, and anybody who faces adversity, that is to say,
everybody will need to read it. Jeffery Paine, author of Father India,
Re-enchantment, Adventures with the Buddha,
and Tales of Wonder.
would have thought that disease can be a page-turner? But Phyllis Langton's bittersweet memoir of her fighter-pilot husband's last years shows that a good
marriage can be as joyous in sickness as it is in health. Mark Weston, author
of Giants of Japan.
my 28 years as a healthcare chaplain I have observed the journey toward death
Phyllis Langton portrays in Last Flight Out. But I am a professional who only sees those brief moments
I am at the hospital or nursing home bedside or visiting in someone's home.
Langton invites us into her life with her husband George as he moves through
increasing disability to his final breaths. It is moving and, in my view,
honest. Chaplain Hank Dunn, author of Hard Choices for Loving People.
couldn't put Last Flight Out down. . .
. What an incredible message to read especially with a disease that takes and
takes. Sharon J. Matland, R.N., M.B.A., V.P. Patient Services, ALS