As­sisted dy­ing ac­tivist re­mem­bered

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON / PROVINCE -

Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered Fri­day af­ter­noon to re­mem­ber a ter­mi­nally ill Hal­i­fax woman whose fight to loosen as­sisted dy­ing laws cap­tured na­tional at­ten­tion as she dis­pensed wis­dom about life from the “bed of truth’’ where she spent her last days.

A “cel­e­bra­tion of life’’ was held for Au­drey Parker at Pier 21 on the city’s water­front, with more than 300 peo­ple in at­ten­dance to pay their re­spects to the charis­matic make-up artist.

The gath­er­ing at the hall over­look­ing the har­bour in­cluded fam­ily mem­bers, friends and peo­ple from the gen­eral pub­lic who’d been touched by her strug­gle.

Her cir­cle of close fe­male friends in at­ten­dance ranged from the Nova Sco­tia pre­mier’s prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, the pres­i­dent of Credit Union At­lantic and na­tion­ally known broad­cast­ers.

Many had sat around what Parker re­ferred to as her “bed of truth,’’ where she dis­pensed ad­vice dur­ing her fi­nal months, in­struct­ing vis­i­tors on ev­ery­thing from how to use cut­lery through es­sen­tials on how to choose a suit­able mate.

Her step-daugh­ter Lu­cie MacMaster said times spent with her were pre­cious, re­call­ing how her chil­dren would of­ten hop into bed to play cards with Parker dur­ing her ill­ness.

“I re­ally wish we had her with us this Christ­mas, but there we go,’’ said MacMaster.

Kim King, 51, a close friend of Parker’s who was with her as she was dy­ing, was one of the hon­orary pall­bear­ers who car­ried a can­dle up to the front of the Pier 21 hall where the cer­e­mony was held.

“Peo­ple are in­spired by her thoughts about liv­ing your best life to the end,’’ she said in an in­ter­view.

Ev­ery de­tail of the gath­er­ing was planned by Parker, said mas­ter of cer­e­monies Nancy Re­gan, re­call­ing how they talked about it over cham­pagne and choco­late-dipped straw­ber­ries at a meet­ing at Pier 21.

“I know she has a huge smile on her face right now about the gor­geous women who showed up to­day,’’ said Re­gan. “Ev­ery­thing about Au­drey was swirling per­fec­tion.’’

Parker ended her life with a doc­tor’s as­sis­tance on Nov. 1, but said un­der amended leg­is­la­tion she might have lived for weeks longer.

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