Loneliness, Life’s Last Companion

Written by Harold McNeill on November 27th, 2011. Posted in Police Notebook


The woman’s eyes were filled with tears as she watched her husband’s body being wheeled away on the stretcher. With her life-long companion dead, the woman knew everything had changed and it was not until I spent a little time talking with her and comforting her, that I realized just how much her life would change.

In those early the years, when the Fire Department provided the only ambulance service in Oak Bay, the police always attended to assist as needed. On this day I was dispatched to the residence where an elderly man had been found in the back yard by his wife after he had collapsed while gardening. As it seemed certain the man was dead, I stayed at the residence to assist the woman, his wife, in contacting a family member or friend to come over and assist in her time of need.

The couple had been living in this upscale south Oak Bay home for several years, but when I inquired if a family member, friend or neighbour who could come over and assist, the woman said there was no one. She was correct, there was not one friend, neighbour or relative in the Victoria area the woman could call upon to help. On the wall I noted a family portrait with two young men and inquired if they were her son’s.  She stated there were and I learned both were professionals working back east, but had not visited home for several years. 

I was finally able to make contact one of her son, an MD as I recall, but he immediately stated that neither he nor his brother had time in their busy work schedule to fly to Victoria at the present moment. The son would, however, “make arrangements” for someone to come and help his mother. That no doubt meant a hired housekeeper or caregiver of some sort. I knew nothing of the family history, but the response shocked me.

This woman, a seemingly caring and kindly sort, was now living in a world where not a single child, relative or friend cared whether she lived or died. Thinking back to the last story, perhaps the “Cat Lady” of Beach Drive had ended her time in a better position! For her, there were a dozen cats that doted upon her and likely gave her comfort to the very end. At the end of shift on this day, sad cases such as these always had a lasting impact.


Note:  Unfortunately these stories and that of the Cat Lady, are repeated over and over every day in Canada. I read an article a couple of weeks back about the number of women in Canada today who end up alone. The number is staggering. This is partly due to the fact that women often outlive men by several years.

Here is a link to a recent story (our of NY)  The Lonely Life of George Bell


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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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