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Neil Harpham's medically assisted death brought his life - and his suffering - to a close
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Neil Harpham was relieved knowing he was waking up to his final day.
A spectacular life spanning 74 years had been a great physical grind for a good piece of time.
Three types of cancers – lung, skin and “another one that has a very strange name to it’’ – plagued his body.
The strength in his legs had long been depleted.
His energy was minimal. Exhaustion easily took hold.
He was moving closer to needing the level of care he would never want to require.
“I wake up in the morning and I go downhill every day…and the next day and the next day and the next day,’’ Harpham told The Guardian Friday, Feb. 8, fewer than two hours before medically assisted death would bring his life – and his suffering – to a close.
“I’m just so glad I don’t have to wake up to this shit anymore.’’
BESIDES MY NEVER ENDING LOVE FOR MY WIFE DEBI ne: ( Horton) Mt Albion WOULD LIKE TO EXTEND MY LOVE TO LOT OF THE TO...Posted by Neil Harpham on Friday, February 8, 2019
Harpham was in good humour reflecting on a life that was fast approaching a close on his own terms.
He has made an impressive mark on Prince Edward Island since moving here from Edmonton in 1972.
He started the Co-op Taxi Line with one cab, and a few years later got Yellow Cab going with four cars, building that business up to 45 cars. Between the two cab companies, he employed about 150 people over the years.
Many of those cabbies lined up outside of their taxis Friday and outside of Harpham’s Charlottetown home to give the man a moving, heartfelt send-off.
Bill Francis of Cornwall was one of many to embrace Harpham in a tight hug.
Harpham gave Francis a job driving a cab when he got out of the military in the 1970s and returned to Charlottetown.
“We became friends and remained friends, and now it’s such a sad day to see that he is not going to be here tomorrow,’’ Francis said Friday.
“He’s a loving guy and he’s been a friend forever. I feel a lot for him. He’s been a great friend.’’
Bill Murray, a driver with Co-op Taxi, said Harpham touched many people.
“Just a great guy, a great mentor,’’ he said.
“He will be sadly missed.’’
Debbie Harpham was devastated, but remarkably understanding, as she prepared Friday to see her husband of 14 years die by medically assisted death.
“I don’t want to say goodbye to him, but I have to put him first,’’ she said.
“So, it’s not easy. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy, but it’s him that needs it.’’
Harpham, who has two sons and was the man who brought the Santa Claus parade to Charlottetown, said he can die a happy man.
“I’ve lived a wonderful life,’’ he said.