Pamela Parker (PJ Parker)
Pamela J. Parker was born and raised in the once famous gold-mining town of Charters Towers in rural Queensland, Australia. She was educated locally before attending James Cook University in Townsville and later Queensland University in Cairns where she studied to become a teacher. Pamela has taught at schools throughout Northern Queensland, but now devotes her time to writing and lives at Caloundra. Pamela has been awarded Runner Up in the 2015 Olga Masters Short Story Award. "On 13th October my father killed my mother". And so begins this extraordinarily, moving and powerful memoir of an Australian family – The Long Goodbye.
Spanning three generations of a rural Queensland farming family, The Long Goodbye is an unforgettable story of love and loss by an outstanding new writer of originality and remarkable skill.When Pamela's ageing mother succumbs to advanced dementia and the family attempts to care as best they can for her, it is her father who takes matters into his own hands and ends her mother's life before taking his own life several weeks later. The Long Goodbye takes you into the life of this family, revealing the grit and resilience which has always driven them, as well as the love that binds them together through the years. At times hilariously funny, at times tragic and shocking, The Long Goodbye is ultimately a grand story of love and the unbreakable bonds of marriage and family set against the harsh and unforgiving realities of life on the land.
Disastrous floods, drought, and farming accidents mean that life and death are never far apart. The Australian landscape is evoked in all its beauty, but its danger is inescapable. Pamela writes with incredible honesty and warmth about her own parents, grandparents and extended family, their celebrations, their wit and great humour while never shying from the dark truths and difficult struggles that plague them too. The Long Goodbye illustrates the devastation of dementia and its terrible consequences for an entire family, as well as her father's controversial and unspeakable solution in euthanasia.
The Long Goodbye is a true story of impossible beauty and sadness, and the story of a remarkable love that could be no other way. The memoir was written over nine months following the death of Pamela’s mum Olive in October 2012 and her dad Fred just a few weeks later. Ms Parker said she would wake each day at 4:00am and sit on her verandah and "just type and cry". Forcing herself to recall happier memories from their family history helped her move beyond the circumstances of her parents' deaths and through her grief.
"I knew that I couldn't just grieve focusing on the last two years and last two minutes of (Mum's) life," Ms Parker said. "I knew I had to go back and try to train my mind away from that awful horror … back to the lovely decades and decades of wonderful memories that they had together."