The Last Waltz:
Love, Death & Betrayal
June 20, 2022 Update: Professor Sean Davison was released from three years of House Arrest in Cape Town, S. Africa, for assisting in the suicides of three men, in excruciating pain, to gently leave this life.
The Last Waltz: Love, Death & Betrayal, written by Sean Davison and edited by Elaine Feuer, is the story of an extraordinary love between a terminally-ill mother and son, and how their informed decisions lead to unforeseen consequences: A sister betrays her brother; a son is charged with murder; Archbishop Desmond Tutu requests bail; igniting a public debate about voluntary euthanasia and the right to die.
I am feeling so much pain as I watch Mum slowly fading away. I wonder if this will have any lasting effect on me; I don’t think so as I am emotionally strong, but it is very stressful. She just lies in bed all day waiting to die. It breaks my heart.
I don’t want my Mum to suffer, so I must let her go. It is just so instinctive to try to hold on to someone you love as long as possible, but by doing that I am prolonging her suffering. Sometimes I feel she is holding on only because I am not letting her go. She is still giving me so much pleasure. Every time I am with her she gives me these beautiful, kind smiles. Today I asked her why she can smile so easily when she is suffering so much. She replied, “They are smiles for you.”
It is becoming very difﬁcult for Mum to walk to the toilet and I now have to escort her. She told me that she wouldn’t need to go to the toilet during the night. However, as it turned out, at 4:30am I was woken by the sound of her dragging herself to the toilet on her own. This was no ballet performance; she was clinging desperately to each wall, trying to pull her frail body along. She had already made it past my bedroom door before I came and escorted her. She probably would have made it on her own, but it was a huge effort, and the potential for falling was high.
I am shocked at how frail Mum has become now. This is particularly noticeable when she tries to stand or walk. Her trips to the toilet symbolize her loss of independence more than anything else, and are embarrassing for her. I have managed, however, to turn these trips into a playful ritual. When she needs to go I ask her if I can have the pleasure of a dance. I then lift her up so that she is standing only lightly on her own legs and announce which ballroom dance it will be. We then move together, in time to a fox trot, tango or waltz. When we get to the turn in the hallway, I lead her through a spin turn. She appreciates the fact that I take the dance timing seriously, not making a mockery of the circumstances. She taught me to waltz when I was a small boy; it is time to return the favor.
About The Author
Sean Davison has a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and is a Professor of Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. He oversees the DNA Forensics Laboratory and has initiated a project to prove the innocence of people wrongfully convicted of crimes, by using DNA testing that was not used at the time of their conviction. Sean is on the Board of the World Federation of Right To Die Societies, and the Director of Dignity South Africa.
Photo taken in front of their mother's casket.
In New Zealand, two months before Pat's death.
Photo taken in front of their mother's casket.
Blue Danube Blog June 2, 2019
Sean Davison's Last Waltz: South Africa explicates three premeditated murder charges against the acclaimed euthanasia advocate, who assisted these men, in excruciating pain, to gently leave this life.
How can it be, in 2019, so many voices crying into the night, in unbearable pain, pleading for a good death, a peaceful death, a compassionate death. Professor Sean Davison, who was convicted in New Zealand of assisting in the suicide of his terminally-ill mother in 2011, has been charged in South Africa with three premeditated murders, each carrying a minimum life sentence. The prosecution has closed its investigation and the pre-trial is set to begin in the High Court on June 19th.
Sean has been a professor of biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape since 2004.
He has supervised their forensic DNA laboratory, working with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to identify the remains of anti-apartheid activists. Sean also designed a DNA kit to help identify suspects in gang rapes, a service that is provided for free to rape victims. As the founder of the right-to-die organization DignitySA, the professor was ecstatic when assisted dying legislation passed in S.A. in 2015. Unfortunately, the Appeals Court reversed that decision.
Here are the three men Professor Davison is accused of murdering:
1) ANRICH BURGER, a medical doctor, became a quadriplegic after a car accident in 2005. He suffered severe nerve pain in his legs and was unable to consume medication on his own.
2) JUSTIN VARIAN had a stroke in 2010; was diagnosed with motor neuron disease one year later; and remained bedridden and in excruciating pain.
3) RICHARD HOLLAND, a sportsman, had a bicycle accident in 2012 that resulted in severe brain injuries: the loss of motor functions; and an inability to communicate; leaving him in acute pain, with migraines and muscle spasticity.
Professor Davison was strategically targeted for arrest, just as he was leaving Cape Town to join his family and a new life in Australia. If Sean is found guilty, it will be impossible for him to avoid prison, regardless how much family members of the deceased support Sean personally. The S.A. government is adamant against legalizing euthanasia, and since the High Court judge is appointed by the government, it is highly unlikely that Sean will be found innocent, especially since there isn't a jury system in S.A. One judge will be deciding Sean's fate.
Who would trade places with Anrich Burger, Justin Varian, or Richard Holland? The fact that people, living in countries that prohibit assisted dying, are forced to endure a long and excruciating demise, is poignant and cruel.
Pat Davison's Self-Portrait
"Absorbed From The First Sentence!"
Erna Grinjesch – EG’s Reality Press (NYC)
Where do I begin? This book hit me on so many personal levels. I, too, am a caregiver. I finished the book, but somehow still find myself feeling the story over and over again. Both of these extraordinary people gave me a continued hope that we treat each other with respect, dignity and love. They got it right. Compassion makes me cry and I cried many times feeling the love they shared. It broke my heart, and yet the strength of this man’s caring, while reaching his own breaking point many times over, never lost the courage to abide his mother’s wish. His actions took real courage and determination on his part. Words of admiration fall short for Sean. He is a hero in compassion, truth, and doing the right thing at all costs. We all need to address these issues they were confronted with. We all have loved ones we care for. Suffering should not be in our reality. More attention needs to be paid here. It is time to wake up and start thinking, and moving into action on many different legislative levels. We are behind globally, really behind the times.
"A Once in a Lifetime Book!"
The Last Waltz: Love, Death & Betrayal is the story of a love affair between a terminally ill mother and son. Beautifully written, Sean Davison asks why people who are suffering from debilitating pain and dependence on others must live in agony until their very last breath. And the story doesn’t stop there. Get the book!
"A Gripping, Tragic, and All Too Human Story"
Gavin Landreth, The Weekend Star (South Africa)
From the very first line in the book, you know what is going to happen in the pages to follow. Or think you do. The author is losing his 85-year-old mother to cancer. Catching the earliest flight possible to New Zealand, where she lives, he prepares for what is clearly a sad event. Her children come from different corners of the world to bid their farewells to this extraordinary woman. Stories and anecdotes are woven around and through the central series of events towards her death: intense and intriguing sibling rivalry, deception, responsibility, quirky characters, and an oblivious cat all add to the rich fabric of this book. The dark story is studded with wit and brutal honesty. As her principal caregiver and protector, the author is faced with daily decisions and dilemmas, culminating in the most devastating of all: can he, as is her wish, put an end to her suffering? Can he kill her? And the drama is just beginning… The Last Waltz is gripping, tragic, and real, and will resonate with everyone who has had a loved one dying and suffering until the bitter end.
"A Fast Moving Drama That You Can’t Put Down"
Loretta Branch, The Saturday Herald, New Zealand
The Last Waltz is fraught with so much drama and shocking twists – you literally cannot put this book down – it’s THAT GOOD. I highly recommend it, since most of us will be faced with the same decisions that Pat and Sean were faced with. Not only will this book encourage dinner-table debates, it could also play a role in changing laws so that people can have a choice to decide how and when they are going to die, when they are suffering.
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Blue Danube
(February 8, 2015)
6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
eBook: ePUB MOBI PDF
File Size: 1459 KB
Print Length: 230 pages
Page Numbers Source
Simultaneous Device Usage:
Publisher: Elaine Feuer
First edition January 22, 2015