In 1975 my grandfather topped himself. My mother, his main carer, clung to the thought that he wanted to cry for help but miscalculated the dosage. It is what the certifying doctor told her.
Daddoo’s life began well and declined badly. He was a Rhodes Scholar, studied medicine at Oxford, flew with the RAF (or whatever they were called in the first world war), and became WA’s only eye doctor. Then he plateau'd. He married an heiress and lived off her money. In the afternoon he went from his consulting rooms to the Weld Club and tippled with the gentry until dinnertime. “Nice bit of pork Marjorie”, he said to my grandmother no matter the meat. He believed he was from the Victorian era so his children were seen but not heard. Doug and Marjorie were society people; they entertained the famous: Laurence Oliver, Sir Robert Menzies. As a society greaser he was over the top even for the Weld Club. His companions told him once that Lord Abernethy was arriving by ship; Daddoo waited dockside ready to present his card, to find His Lordship was a bull.
After living overseas, Daddoo and Nannan began their life in Perth in the best real estate in that city, a grand house on a cliff with a panaromic view of Freshwater Bay. They moved to a house on the bay with a view of the bay. On Daddoo’s retirement they moved to a house in a valley in Kalamunda. Marjorie was lonely so they moved back into the suburbs. The house was on a busy road but near a teachers college so they topped up their income by taking in boarders. In the end they were struggling.
On Marjorie’s death Daddoo went to a retirement village but was expelled after pulling a toilet from the wall and floor. He went to a nursing home and put in a small windowless linoleumed room off a busy corridor adorned only by his reading chair and floor rug. When Mum took him on outings he made his way to the nearest pharmacy and asked for a toxic dose of some medicine. The horrified pharmacist looked at Mum but she had nothing left and shrugged her shoulders. Evidently Daddoo finally secured his dose; perhaps he amassed it.
The reason my grandfather found living unbearable was not because of physical illness but because he saw no reason for living and nothing to be happy about. I suppose if it was now someone would suspect depression and he would be treated. If that had happened he might have left the toilet undisturbed and led a tolerable life at the original retirement home.
I hate the thought someone could end a human life, even their own, and I cannot reconcile that with the feeling that my grandfather should have been allowed to end his miserable life with dignity and on notice.