Prince Vinegar

Prince Vinegar

Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews poses for a portrait in his home in Ocala on September 29, 2016. Andrews woke up at 3:30 every morning, but would wake to his wife at 7 by rubbing her feet in the dim morning light of their bedroom. When the hospice bed was installed in the living room, Carolyn was the one who began to rub Ted's feet after it became too difficult for him to walk.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald "Ted" Andrews and his wife Carolyn sit in their living room eating potpies for dinner from Lee's Chicken in Ocala, Florida on September 28, 2016. Eating became more and more difficult for Ted as his illness and age increased. He had his throat stretched several times to help with his eating, but they weren't effective for very long. Carolyn helped by trying to make food for Ted he could easily swallow, but by the end of his life, that was difficult. Despite having the intentions of starving himself to death, Ted was trying to eat and drink until the end of his life.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews slowly walks in his bedroom in his home in Ocala on September 28, 2016. A source of relief for Ted in his last few months was seeing his chiropractor who gave his back a momentary sense of relief. Towards the end of his life, Ted was losing sensation in his legs and moving around his home and operating a vehicle became difficult.

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Prince Vinegar

Carolyn and Ronald 'Ted' Andrews pose for a portrait on their porch in Ocala on September 28, 2016. Ted said for the start, he wanted to have control over his death so he wouldn't be a burden to Carolyn. By the end, when the hospice bed was in their living room, he felt he was a burden and Carolyn didn't have the energy to take care of him any longer. For his final hours of life, he was moved to a hospice home where he died in the early hours of the morning.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews slowly makes his way from the kitchen to his easy chair, using a cane, after waking up at 3:30 in the morning in his home in Ocala on September 29, 2016. Hard as Ted tried, he was unable to sleep more than a few hours every night as his illness worsened.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews finishes painfully climbing into his bed in his home in Ocala on September 28, 2016. Even though he barely slept through the night, he maintained a standard bedtime of 10 p.m. He had a difficult time getting comfortable and his wife Carolyn would come and tuck him in at night.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews uses a wooden match to light a hand rolled cigarette outside of his home at 7 in the morning in Ocala on September 29, 2016. Ted smoked cigarettes and marijuana until he was a few days away from his death. Carolyn gave him his joints after the hospice bed was installed in their living room because it helped take his pain away.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews makes himself a cup of coffee after waking up a 3:30 am, after only a few hours of sleep in his home in Ocala. As Ted's ALS progressed, he lost more and more muscle mass making ordinary tasks like pouring coffee from a coffee pot require two hands.

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Prince Vinegar

Carolyn Andrews cleans in her bathroom while an old photo of her husband Ted, smiles back at her reflection in their home in Ocala on September 28, 2016. Carolyn and Ted met in the 1960s when Ted owned an art gallery in San Francisco and got married on the rooftop of their loft.

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Prince Vinegar

Carolyn fills out paperwork for her husband, Ronald 'Ted' Andrews at their chiropractor's waiting room in Ocala on September 29, 2016. On their first visit, Ted explained to his chiropractor he couldn't pay what his medicare wasn't covering and he was worried he couldn't continue his treatment. The chiropractor waved his fee so Ted and Carolyn could continue to be relieved of their back pain.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews gets his head worked on during a visit to the chiropractor office in Ocala on September 29, 2016. Ted felt instantly better after this visit, feeling more energy and had an easier time moving around. Unfortunately, this feeling didn't last very long and his pain quickly returned.

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Prince Vinegar

Carolyn struggles to stay awake while eating her lunch in her home in Ocala on October 22, 2016. Carolyn didn't sleep for nearly two days after hospice came and installed Ronald 'Ted' Andrew's hospital bed in their living room. Days before, Ted had fallen, suffering from several injuries, they decided to call hospice for assistance.

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Prince Vinegar

Ronald 'Ted' Andrews grabs his wife, Carolyn's, hand while laying in his hospital bed in their living room in their home in Ocala on October 22, 2016. Even after hospice was called, Ted kept trying to eat and drink the items Carolyn prepared for him. Even as he struggled to eat his croissants and scrambled eggs, Ted didn't attempt complete starvation before passing away a few days later.

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Prince Vinegar

Carolyn Andrews sits in her late husband's easy chair in their living room the day after his death in Ocala on October 25, 2016. While she sit's in the chair he always occupied, his oxygen tube and the pillows and blankets that were used on his hospital bed sit in her regular chair. Carolyn didn't expect Ted's death to come so quickly after being moved to the hospice house, she planned to go and visit him the next morning. She hadn't been able to sleep for days while taking care of Ted and after he was moved, she was finally able to sleep.

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Prince Vinegar

Carolyn Andrews takes a moment to herself after talking to her neighbors about her husband's death the previous day outside of her home in Ocala on October 25, 2016. Ted had always planned to be cremated and Carolyn was able to go to the funeral home earlier in the day to say goodbye.

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Prince Vinegar

Carolyn Andrews kisses and holds her husband's ashes for the first time on Wednesday, November 23, 2016. Ted passed away in late October and didn't want to be buried or a funeral service.

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Photography by Eve Edelheit • Text by Anna M. Phillips

Images and Text © Tampa Bay Times - Presented for Portfolio Purposes Only

Would you know when it’s time to go? Are you sure?

Ronald “Ted” Andrews was convinced after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease that he was going to take charge of his own life and his own death.

He began to reach out to assisted suicide support groups, created a living will and began to create plans that would give him the control he so desired to take his life back from this slow and painful disease. But his wife Carolyn still held out hope that with vitamins, new treatments and positive thinking, he could live a longer life than Ted was planning.

As the ALS spread over many months, Ted could no longer make his wife coffee in the morning, create art in his studio or enjoy eating a simple pot pie with his wife at dinner time. He kept drawing lines, setting limits on his life: When he could no longer work. When he couldn’t eat steak. When he was stuck in a chair. When he became a burden. “I’ll just know,” he said. “Then I’ll go.”

Ted began to face the impossible decision that so many in his position have had to face.

 

“I’m running out of patience,” he fumed. But even if he could have
gotten those pills, he admitted, he wouldn’t take them. Not yet. He kept saying, “I still have so much to do.”

In states where terminally ill patients have access to life-ending drugs, many hold on to them just for the control they bring. In Oregon, where a Death with Dignity Act took effect 18 years ago, state figures show 1,545 people have gotten end-of-life prescriptions. A third never took the medication.

Ted didn’t get to end his life on his own terms. He was placed in hospice care and passed away in his sleep shortly after being admitted. By the time he passed away, the last year of his life had taken a significant toll on Carolyn. She was down a significant amount of weight and had to bring an oxygen tank with her wherever she went. Ted always had said he didn’t want that, wouldn’t put her through such an ordeal. But he had. Not out of selfishness but because no matter how strong your convictions are to do what you think is right, it can be even harder to let go.