MIDDLETON, NS - If Tammy Rose Connell could say one more thing to Allison Mahar, it would be that she loves him.
But she won’t have the chance.
Mahar, 39, is dead. Jason David Bezanson, 33, of Annapolis County, has been charged with second degree murder in his death.
Tammy Rose last saw Mahar in a hospital room in New Glasgow, where police asked her to identify the unconscious victim of disfiguring trauma to the head.
Mahar, from Middleton, was the love of her life.
She remembers him as a guy with a big heart, who would do anything for anyone.
She also remembers the morning a police officer arrived with devastating news.
Mahar was still alive, but barely.
When she saw him in that hospital bed, Mahar’s face swollen and bruised, she ran from the room and was sick. But she and her mother, also Tammy Rose Connell, sat with him. They said their goodbyes before he was transported to Halifax, where he was later pronounced dead.
Mother, who goes by Tammy, and daughter, known as Rose, sat outside a small home in Middleton Sept. 10, just three days after Mahar was the victim of a fatal trauma at a hotel in New Glasgow in the early hours of Sept. 7 – and just two days after he died.
Rose held her son, Lincoln, on her knee. Friends and family were gathered around.
“He was the most kind-hearted, loving person,” said Rose as she cried on the outside step to the house. “He was a good Dad. He was a good Dad.”
The devastating news
“We went trail hiking, fishing, we went to Port George every Sunday, swimming at the lake,” Rose said. “If he wasn’t working we were just spending time as a family.”
Rose is angry Lincoln will grow up without Mahar in his life. She worries that Mahar didn’t know they were there with him in the hospital room, that she said goodbye.
“If he was here now he’d be throwing wood in,” said Tammy, scant metres away from a pile of hardwood strewn on the driveway. She said Mahar was happy to be a dad.
Rose tried to talk about what happened, about how she felt. But it was tough to do through the tears, so mother Tammy described the surreal few days of hospital, police, churches, and funeral homes.
When police arrived at her home in the early morning hours following the traumatic event in New Glasgow, Tammy knew something was wrong.
“I said ‘what happened? Did something happen?’” she recalls. “The officer looked at me. I could see it in his face. I said ‘come on in.’ He stood in my porch doorway and he looked at me and said, ‘I have some bad news.’”
The officer told her what happened and gave her a number to contact police in New Glasgow and the Aberdeen Hospital, where EHS had taken Mahar after first responders were called to the Travelodge on Westville Road at about 2:50 a.m.
Tammy said she lost it and started crying. She went upstairs and banged on the wall. She got her grandson, Austin, up and got him to ride down the street on his bicycle and get Rose.
“Next thing I know, Rose was flying around the corner on the bicycle while everyone else was walking with the baby,” Tammy said. “She jumped off the bike and dropped it - and I told her. I said ‘Tammy Rose, Allison is gone. He’s on life support but he’s gone.’”
Final farewells at the hospital
They went up to the hospital and were met by an officer at the door who led them to the room.
“First they took us into one little room, and they talked to us, and they discussed the situation and what was going on, and they wanted Tammy Rose to go and identify him to see if it was Allison,” Tammy said. “She walked in the door. I heard a scream and crying.”
Rose, who was having trouble breathing, was coughing and started to get sick.
“I put my arms around her, and I hugged her and I told her ‘we have to go back in the room now and we’re going to be there for Allison,’” Tammy said. “She hugged me and we walked in, sat down, and she held his hand. She cried and she cried.”
Tammy Rose Connell described Mahar’s injuries, almost too gruesome to repeat.
“He was so badly bruised,” she said. “It was all machines, all machines and cords. And his face was so badly bruised and swelled.”
Tammy held his hand too, and put her hand on his hair.
“I looked at him and I said ‘what happened Allison? Who did this to you?’”
She said she could tell it was Mahar, but added that he was nearly beyond recognition. His hands were cold and when she squeezed his hand there might have been a little movement of Mahar squeezing back, she said. But she wasn’t sure.
They told her the only reason Mahar was there was because the machines were keeping him alive. They took him to Halifax, where he died just around midnight.
Heart of gold
“Allison had a heart of gold. He loved his family very much. We were his family,” Tammy said, gesturing to Rose and Lincoln, and the crowd of people gathered around them on the little paved driveway.
“He loved his mom, his dad. He had a handicapped sister who he adored. He was supposed to come home Saturday. Sunday they would have been gone to the beach.”
Tammy said Mahar didn’t deserved what happened to him.
“I went yesterday (Sept. 9) and did an obituary in the morning, me and Rose. I was very proud of the way she held up.”
Somebody close to the family made a wooden urn. “A little wood box. It’s beautiful. And we’re going to bring Allison home after the service, and we’re going to keep him home so that no one else can hurt him.”
Mahar, the son of Michael and Deborah Mahar, was born in Berwick.
The obituary Tammy and Rose wrote in his honour describes Mahar as a man with an “extraordinary laugh,” who enjoyed drives to the beach at Port George, hiking, playing guitar and travelling locally.
Mahar’s memorial service is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. Visitation will take place Sept. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Middleton Funeral Home.