Before We Say Goodbye

About the book

Respected and popular, Pat Davison practised as Dr Patricia Fergusson on New Zealand's West Coast. Now she is nearly 85, with secondary cancers. She can no longer paint - her passion - or even read. Formidably intelligent, she makes up her mind. This is no longer living. She wants to die.

Her son Sean's day by day account of what happens when he flies to be with her holds nothing back. It happened, and it is true. Sometimes the candour is almost excruciating but the story is shot through with humour and wry self-awareness, with the deep bond of tenderness between mother and son never faltering.

When family and friends gather, the old hurts and slights and awkwardness emerge, everyone is tested.

About the author

Sean Davison was born in Auckland and spent most of his childhood on the West Coast, gaining a doctorate in microbiology at the University of Otago. He is Professor of Biotechnology at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town. There he heads the Forensic DNA Laboratory which specialises in DNA identifications in resolving human rights cases in South Africa. In 2011 a New Zealand court sentenced Dr Davison to five months home detention for counselling and procuring his mother to commit suicide.


Before We Say Goodbye speaks directly to countless families. It challenges us in our deepest selves. Many will call it a love story.

Author, Sean Davison
Author, Sean Davison