Loneliness, Life’s Last Companion

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


alone-elderly

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.

Harold

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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Comments

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold