Last night I watched, on television, a sensational and disturbing true life story about how a man survived an attempt – by his seemingly devoted wife - at killing him. I don’t usually watch these sorts of programs but this one was somehow compelling. Without dwelling on the reasons behind or methods of this awful murder attempt, it is enough to say that the woman was clearly not your average reasonable thinking person. She showed no empathy in any part of the sordid story – and yet her husband was unaware that anything was wrong, even after nearly dying. This story, called “Love You to Death” displayed a most mysterious attitudes to death – one that put the desire for money ahead of all else.
On the ‘other side of the coin’ so to speak, I have recently read a most satisfying book entitled, “My Mother, My Father, on losing a parent”, edited by Susan Wyndham, an Australian journalist.
In this book (and I quote): “some of Australia's best known writers share their wise and searingly honest experiences of losing a parent”.
They are stories that are “intimate, honest, moving, sometimes funny, never sentimental, and always well written”.
It was such a lovely read and I felt privileged to be able to share the writers’ experiences and have an insight into how they viewed losing a parent, even when the parent was well into old age (in some cases).
After finishing this book, I returned to the library and borrowed a book called “When I Die”, written by Philip Gould, (Baron Gould of Brookwood) – the brilliant Labour Party strategist who helped bring Tony Blair to power in 1997, and was awarded a peerage in 2004.
Philip Gould started writing his book after being diagnosed with cancer in 2008.
In an effort to try and understand his situation and to record all the efforts made to beat the disease and to make people aware of cancer and its (and his) journey, he started writing a detailed tale of all he endured.
When he eventually realised that he was, in his words, “in the Death Zone”, he began to embrace the lesson of it all:
“I am enjoying my death. There is no question I am having the most fulfilling time of my life. I am having in many ways the most enjoyable time of my life, too. I am having the closest relationships with all of my family”.
Philip Gould died in 2011.
Attitudes towards death are interesting as is the general fear (or not) of death and dying, but I simply must stop reading this subject matter – for a while at least.
Glancing at my notebook where I jot down titles of books I plan to borrow from the library, I see that the next book on my list is “This House of Grief”, by Helen Garner. It is the true story of how a father drove his car into a dam, with his three small sons strapped in their seatbelts, unable to escape; all because he wanted to ‘punish’ his wife.
Perhaps I’d better skip this one and go to the next book on my list, which sounds a little more cheerful. It’s “Survival of the Nicest” by Stefan Klein.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.