IN LOVE: Pam Parker's parents in happier times.
IN LOVE: Pam Parker's parents in happier times. Contributed

Even death could not tear Pam's parents apart

"FOR my mother with love ... and my father too."

The prologue to Pam Parker's memoir, The Long Goodbye, were the hardest words she had to write.

But they were just the start, as she recounted the love story of her parents, Fred and Olive Bagnall, and how their happy 65-year marriage came to an end at the hands of her father.

Living life on the land, surviving floods and droughts in the harshest backdrop of rural Australia with its unforgiving ways were her family's toughest battle, until her mum was diagnosed with dementia.

It began to worsen until Olive made the decision to go into Eventide's Aged Care Facility in Charters Towers with Fred in 2010.

Pam, who lives in Caloundra, said her father started talking about euthanasia and how they could end their love story together.



Pam Parker with her novel.
Pam Parker with her novel. Meghan Kidd

He campaigned, wrote to newspapers, premiers and even the prime minister, telling them he wanted to die with dignity.

Pam said he was already mourning his wife who he said had "already gone".

On Sunday, October 28, 2012 Pam received the call her mother had died in her sleep.

From the start, she had the suspicion her father had a hand in her mother's death.

"He told me he didn't," Pam said as they were packing things away after the funeral.

Eventually Pam found out how in the early hours Fred, at 95, killed Olive, 85 with sleeping pills.

She said she knew within a month of her mum dying she had to tell her story.

"Just dealing with the grief of it, you're so sad, so empty and so numb and I just really wanted to remember the good times," Pam said.

"My mum was wonderful, she really was.

"I was so distressed about dad having a hand in mum's death ... the fact he felt he had to do that, you're thinking about mum and the last moments of her life and how he was suffering too."

She said she felt she had to distance herself from her dad, but would still call him every day, and talk about the book she was writing.

She said it helped her forgive.

It was her call on December 15, 2012 that Pam knew something was wrong.

"I called him at about 4pm and was a bit busy, so told him I'd speak to him the next day," Pam said.

"When he answered with "goodbye", I thought it was strange, but before I could call back we'd lost service."

The next day, her dad was found unconscious in his bed and, having signed a Do Not Resuscitate directive years earlier, passed away in the Charters Towers hospital hours later.

Pam said he had told her sister Betty the night before he wanted to be with their mother before Christmas.

And he was.

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