An impossible decision

24 Oct

Tracy Latimer died eighteen years ago today.

Do you know who she was?

The heavy metal musician Ozzy Osbourne has written a number of songs about real life people…such as Aleister Crowley, Charles Manson, and Jimmy Swaggart.

So, when I heard the song “Latimer’s Mercy” on his latest album “Scream” I suspected it was about someone named Latimer.

So I checked the internet. Sure enough, it’s a song about the case of the mercy killing of twelve-year-old Tracy Latimer by her father Robert.

Have you ever heard of Robert Latimer?
After I read about this case, the lyrics to the song suddenly made sense.

It’s a sad story. No parents should ever have to even contemplate such a decision.

Although, I can understand Robert Latimer’s motives to end his daughter’s suffering, I can’t say whether it was the “right thing to do” or not.
I could never make such a decision, though.

Tracy Latimer was born in Canada in November 1980 with Cerebral Palsy, which meant she would never be able to walk or talk or even feed herself. It also caused her to have severe muscle seizures for which she needed medication.
In addition, she often dislocated her hip which caused intense pain but she couldn’t take pain killers because of her anti-seizure medication.

In her short life, Tracy had already undergone many major surgeries and doctors had told her parents that she would need more surgeries.

While the rest of his family was at church on Sunday, 1993 October 24, one month before Tracy’s thirteenth birthday, Robert Latimer put his daughter into the cab of his truck and ran a hose from the exhaust.
Tracy Latimer died of carbon monoxide poisoning and her father went to prison for her murder.
But many people in Canada supported his decision to end his daughter’s pain and believed Robert Latimer shouldn’t have been convicted.
Robert Latimer was released on parole last year.

Here are the lyrics to “Latimer’s Mercy” by Ozzy Osbourne:

Another day, another full seizure,
Another pill, you spiral down deeper,
Another cut by a surgical butcher,
It’s just a way of prolonging the torture

*I won’t say I don’t know what I’m doing,
I won’t say that I’m sorry (I’m sorry)

I can’t bring you back,
I can’t leave you helpless (helpless),
I’ll make the pain rest in peace (rest in peace)

I’ll turn off the lights,
Swallow your last breath (last breath),
So close your eyes, fall asleep (close your eyes)

I’ll never hurt you (hurt you),
I’ll never hurt you (hurt you)

The sun shines on this deadly new morning,
The church bells ring an early warning,
Your eyes shine as I turn on the motor,
The tears fall as the mercy gets closer

(repeat *)

You can listen to it here:

Tracy Latimer, 1980 November 23 – 1993 October 24, RIP

7 Responses to “An impossible decision”

  1. musings October 30, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    How absolutely awful. Just the thought of a parent having to go through this is horrible! I’m glad they released him on parole.


    • tokyo5 October 30, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

      Yes, no one should have to suffer the way Tracy Latimer did…and no parents should have to see their child suffer.

      >I’m glad they released him on parole.

      Yes, I can see that he took his daughter’s life out of love for her…but, on the other hand, I’m not sure he made the correct decision. I certainly wouldn’t be able to do what he did.


  2. tokyo5 October 25, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    I forgot to mention in the post…
    in the song “Latimer’s Mercy”, there’s the line:

    I won’t say I don’t know what I’m doing,
    I won’t say that I’m sorry

    That’s because after Robert Latimer was convicted of killing his daughter, his lawyer advised him in order to get parole he should plead that he didn’t know what he was doing due to temporary insanity, or at least that we was sorry he did it.

    But Mr. Latimer refused because, he said, he felt he did the right thing- whether it was legal or not- and it would dishonor his daughter to say what he did was wrong.


  3. tokyo5 October 24, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    >My mother passed away a couple of years ago.

    I’m sorry to hear that.

    >My mother was dependent on my father and myself to care for her.

    Personally, that’s the only decision I would make, too. I would find it impossible to take the life of a loved one….but I can also understand not wanting them to suffer—especially if they requested a “mercy killing”. I just don’t think I could do it, though.


  4. Metal Odyssey October 24, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    My mother passed away a couple of years ago. She was a 20 year survivor of three major strokes that hit her in one day. My mother lived in constant pain, could not walk nor talk. Her movement was limited to just her left arm and hand, with her being able to move her head as well. Pain medications never did much for my poor suffering mother either. My mother was dependent on my father and myself to care for her.

    Never once did I ever consider taking her life out of “mercy”. I am not God. Now though, I am at peace knowing my mother no longer has to live in pain… she is walking, talking and having a blast (I hope and pray) in heaven with my sister.


  5. reesan October 24, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    gees man. what a sad story and an impossible decision. I can’t imagine what it would be like to witness the suffering so much to bring you to that outcome. I wonder if his wife supported the decision?


    • tokyo5 October 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

      > I wonder if his wife supported the decision?

      He didn’t consult with his wife about it. He said that he knew his wife was just as torn emotionally about what was best for their daughter. So, he wanted to spare her from having to make such a difficult choice.

      I can understand that he was in a difficult spot, and although I’m sure I wouldn’t have made the same decisions he did, I can’t condemn him because I believe he acted out of love and compassion for his family.


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