Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Of course I can't be sure. But what else to make of the shooting death of a sick, eighty-year old woman by her elderly husband in a Penticton hospital who then turned the gun on himself? The story leading up to the shootings, according to the newspapers, was that of a wife growing steadily worse in hospital where she was in the process of being transferred to extended care, perhaps the end not too far away, the future uncertain with the prospect of more suffering for the wife and the husband's own health becoming problematical.
But did the wife know what her husband was up to? Did she agree? That her husband would kill them both? From all accounts the man and his wife were a loving couple, the husband affectionate and attentive. I didn't know this man or his wife but I think I may understand the man. He was seventy-eight years old. My age. We have lived through tumultuous times, he and I, just by virtue of being alive at the same time. Wars, depressions, hard times, good times. And we have experienced death. There is nobody seventy-eight years old who hasn't become intimately acquainted with death. And suffered the sense of bitter, devastating loss.
Some losses cannot be borne; some separations are so stupefying they are like death of one's own person. When faced with the prospect of the imminent death of a beloved the human physic can revolt and say no, I want you to stay, but if you insist on going then I will go with you, I simply can't bear the separation, it is far better that I go with you.
I have personally been in this soulful place. And the impulse to follow a dying loved one can be overwhelming. But I had other young family who were also being left behind, ones who needed me, whom I loved as much and who gave me the surety that I must live out their love for me and mine for them and let the others go.
But what if there are no compelling others? No compelling needs of others? What is there then to anchor an old man when his beloved is taken leave of him, perhaps in suffering? Obviously at some point this grieving man decided that he and his beloved must not be separated by death and more suffering, that they should break clean and go into that mysterious adventure together. I only hope the wife knew. And agreed. I hope it is a love story. I think it is a love story.

1 comment:

  1. rhondda8:01 PM

    I think you are right. It is a love story. We all know what happens to old people and he decided no. I agree, I hope she agreed. In my own town I watched how the powers that be built an old folks home on the outskirts of town. There is no way, they can get to the seniors centre without a ride. They are dying left right and centre whereas before they were across the street from the seniors centre and it was possible to get them there without hassle. I read this story with great sadness. It is not about security and whether guns get in or not. It is about how we treat people. Bless you Betty. You are a hero.