The last sounds John Bird heard as he died were words of love spoken by his children.

Just three weeks previously the 83-year-old had been diagnosed with cancer; he had seen his wife die of the disease two decades before and he knew, with certainty, that he did not want to suffer in the same way.

And so, the former chemistry teacher opted for medical assisted dying, legal in his home country of Canada.

For his daughter, Fiona Anderson, and son, Ian, it was a shock that, a year later, they are still processing - but one they supported completely.

"I think what got me over the shock was just 'That's what my dad wanted'", Mrs Anderson said, "and my brother and I live by that."

Mrs Anderson, also a teacher, moved to Dunblane from her hometown of Kingston, in Ontario, 26 years ago where she is married with two children.

READ MORE: MSP Liam McArthur says assisted dying will be introduced in Scotland

Due to the pandemic, she and her brother, who lives in Vienna, had not seen their father for three years but in April last year the family met together in Islay, where their mother, Isobel, had been from.

Having missed festive celebrations together, the family held a belated Christmas with secret Santa, turkey and all the trimmings and gifts for Mr Bird's four grandchildren, Savva, Matthew, Louise and Sophia.

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Mrs Anderson and her brother were concerned their father - fondly known as Grandpa John - might have covid as he was coughing frequently and appeared unwell. They pressed him to have his coughed checked out when he returned home to Canada, but, back in Kingston, he fell sicker and went to hospital where he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and multiple secondary tumours.

"He was actually riddled with cancer," Mrs Anderson said. The prognosis was three to six months.

She and Ian flew home to Canada to make plans for how best their father could be cared for as he would no longer be able to live on his own.

"But," she added, "He very quickly said, ‘I would like MAID. I want MAID.

"And we were like, ‘What’s MAID?’ so you can imagine the WhatsApps back and forward between myself and my husband. I’m going, ‘He wants to die’."

Medical assisted dying was introduced in Canada in 2016 and is been available for adults with terminal illness.

In 2021, the law was expanded to include those with serious and chronic physical conditions, even if that condition was non-life threatening, putting Canada alongside a small handful of countries, that allow medically assisted dying for those without a terminal illness.

READ MORE: Dame Prue Leith tells MSPs of how assisted dying would have helped her brother

Mr Bird wanted to make plans just as quickly as possible and chose a date three weeks later, June 1, 2022.

His wife, Isobel, died 25 years before from secondary breast cancer and had endured "a slow death", suffering the side effects of chemotherapy.

Mrs Anderson said: "Yes, it was three weeks later – but he knew it, he knew it in his heart.

"He lived on his own, his big fear was he didn’t want to have a stroke and be lying in a vegetative state.

"And I think he did it for us. He loved my brother and I so much he didn’t want us to be back and forth and back and forth.

"His brother had died a few years before and he said 'I don't want to be in diapers'. And he saw my mum die so we know what a bad death is."

Immediately following the diagnosis Mrs Anderson flew home to Scotland and spent a week with her husband and children, "and gathered my feelings".

She returned to Canada with her husband and the family helped Mr Bird clear his flat and put his affairs in order, they organised his funeral with him and decided how he would like to spend his final night.

Mrs Anderson filled out the paperwork for her father to die - "something I never thought I would have to do" - and he was interviewed by two independent doctors to ensure he was competent and making an independent decision. Mr Bird was in a Catholic palliative care home and the family worried about the reaction of staff and causing them offence.

His daughter said: "For my dad, he had a scientific mind but we spoke to people of faith.

"My dad was very black and white. He said 'I want to die and I want to die soon' and we apologised to the staff and said we were sorry if this impacts on their faith.

"But one spoke to us and she said 'My God allows that'."

The night before, the family gathered - Mr Bird, Ian, Fiona and their spouses - and drank wine and talked and and shared stories and laughed. "Then the next day," Mrs Anderson said, "It was just my brother and I who said goodbye.

"We were sustained by the love for my dad and knowing he wasn't going to be in pain.

"During the process itself, he got an IV drip and we sat by his bedside and they gave him four different drugs and he slipped away.

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"We were lucky. Sometimes they have pain but my dad was given a sedative and he just slipped away and it looked like he was asleep.

"We sat beside his bedside and held his hand and the last thing he heard was, ‘I love you’.

"He didn’t hear it down the phone, he didn’t hear it through pain."

While the family supported their father's decision, it has taken some time for them to reconcile their feelings and begin to process the experience.

Ian Bird now volunteers with an assisted dying support service in Canada while Mrs Anderson is now an advocate for the process, supporting Liam McArthur MSP's assisted dying bill, which is making its way through the Scottish Parliament.

READ MORE: New Zealand's only hospice to offer assisted dying shares experience with Scotland

It was some of the smaller, more practical details that left a lasting impact on the family and support charities helped them process these.

Mrs Anderson said: "If you’ve not had a loved one have assisted death there are things like ordering a taxi to take your dad from the palliative care home to hospital. That’s what happened in our situation. Getting your head around that.

"Then getting your head around what do you do after he dies. And how do you get over it? For me, I've made connections with people through charities in Scotland.

"But for the first year it was so hard to talk about my dad's death because it was so complex and people don't understand assisted dying."

Her dad, she said, was a "lovely man" who joined the army as a young man and then taught chemistry in a military college before moving to a community college.

His wife, Isobel, had been a nurse on Islay before emigrating to Canada.

"And it was that typical story of army boys and nurses," Mrs Anderson said, "They had a great life."

The couple's ashes are now on Islay, Mrs Bird's scattered 23 years ago and Mr Bird's scattered in the same place in April this year.

Mrs Anderson is strongly in support of changes to the law that would allow for assisted dying in Scotland, saying: "We have a good birth, we intervene and give Caesarean sections. Why on earth why can’t we have a good death?

"It’s about agency and bravery. And that agency is that people have the right to make their decisions.

"We miss my dad, we miss him terribly, but I think by giving his journey a voice helps us and now we just miss my dad because we miss my dad."

She and her husband would now both choose assisted dying, if the situation arose.

Mrs Anderson added: "My dad didn't want to have palliative care, he just wanted the journey to end.

"This is what I want now because I want my children to be sitting beside my bedside. I have a lovely son Matthew and a daughter, Louise, and I want them sitting beside my bedside knowing that that's what we choose as a family.

"We believe in this as a family because that's what Grandpa John did. He leaves us with a legacy of agency."