Text Size

a a

I never knew true love till I met him

Roger and Di Renders were a team who looked after each other and had adventures together. When Roger became more unwell, he was reluctant to accept help from St Helena at first but soon looked forward to visits from the Hospice in the Home team.

A few months before Roger died, he mentioned he’d like to go out to the pub, to enjoy a real ale with his friends, so the team made it happen and you can read about his pub visit here wife Di continues to raise funds for St Helena in Roger’s memory, even taking on a daring skydive! Di shares their story:

We don't talk about dying and death enough. It's a taboo subject. I knew that Roger was dying. I don't think Roger knew Roger was dying. I think he was in denial because he didn't want to. He wanted to live. He fought and fought and fought. They gave him a week and he lasted four months.

I didn't know much about the Hospice until we got referred to the virtual ward when Roger became unwell. The doctor said to me this is end of life care and referred us to the Hospice. I didn't know what to expect. Debbie Vincent, a specialist nurse, came round and talked Roger all through it. I remember that day she sat in the bedroom with him and she said they would start the care in the morning so carers will come round in the morning and then round in the evening to get ready for bed. And he said no but she said, just give it a go. So these carers pulled into the car park and Roger sat there and he's like, you tell them to go, I don’t want them in here. And I said, but they've come to help. You help, you do it. I said yeah, I know but they’ve come to help me and give me support as well. 

So he was very anti for the first few days but then he started saying as the cars were pulling in, here are my ladies. They didn't come in and treat him as a patient. They treated him like a friend; they laughed, they joked, and seeing him laughing and joking was brilliant because we didn't have a lot to laugh and joke about. 

He was quite with it then but four months down the line, it was a bit different. No matter what problem I had, I phoned SinglePoint. Middle of the night? It didn't matter, they were there, even if I just wanted to chat. If we didn't have that what would people do? It would be awful because I couldn't have got through those four months. St Helena wasn't just supporting Roger, they were supporting me and even if he didn't want anything they'd come in and sit down and chat with me to make sure I was OK and I had eaten. So if you took that equation out of it, it would have been absolutely dreadful. But I look upon it as it was a privilege; a privilege to share our lives with those wonderful people. 

When he passed away, it was 9.40 on a Saturday morning and I phoned carer June and I said Roger has just passed. She said right, I'm on my way. So she came straight round. She phoned the other carers Jason, Serena and Aga, and they all came round. They said would it be OK if we get him ready, get him washed and dressed because we just want to be here. So they did. They were absolutely amazing. 

If it wasn't for St Helena and all those lovely people, that time would have been absolutely horrendous. I know it was horrendous, but they made Roger’s passing so peaceful, comfortable. When they washed and dressed him, he just looked like he was asleep, bless him. It was a privilege for me to know that he meant so much to them. They are absolute angels.

He was poorly for five years and it was last four months when we were referred and nurse Debbie came in to assess him. I knew there was something bothering him and he wouldn't talk to me but when Debbie came round and sat with him, he said to her I don't want to die because I don't want to leave Di on her own. 

When Debbie came, she asked him what he wanted and he said he wanted to be at home. Debbie got the profile bed in and we had everything in here. It got to the point where I was so tired that they took him in the Hospice for a few days just to get his breathing under control, and so I can get some decent night sleeps. But the next morning he wanted to come home, so I brought him home and we carried on with virtual ward and SinglePoint and nurse Debbie. I had some massages and reflexology at the Hospice as complementary treatment. Time for me and a time just to relax and forget about things so. That's brilliant service as well and that's all voluntary. 

The last two weeks he just was so poorly. He wasn't very responsive, he slept a lot, and that was heartbreaking because that's not the active man that I knew. But I wouldn't want him to have lived and just laid in bed all day not knowing what was going on.

He was the most amazing man I have ever met in my entire life. I never knew true love till I met him, that's for sure. He was amazing. Took me all over the world. I never even had a passport when I met him. We've got such amazing memories and no one can take those away. 

I did get very down after. It got to the point where life didn't seem... it seemed pointless without him being in it. But then something in me just thought, no, I've got to live my life for both of us. He loved life. He used to say every morning I get up and I just know I'm going to love life for another day. He was the most funny, loving, caring man. He was just everything and to lose that is massive. But I'm doing OK. He watches over me, I know. Always. If I have a problem somehow, it gets solved. 

Roger was 77 but he looked about 40. He did get upset about that, he’d say look I'm getting all skinny and I said I don't care, I still love you, it's not going to change. And he said but you didn't marry me to do this, did you? I said yes, I did. I said I would do anything for you. And if I could do it all again, I'd do it all again, I'd go through all that pain because he was worth it. 

We were together for 17 years and married for 10. Best 10 years of my life. We had each other and that's what we needed. We did everything together and to get up in the morning and not have that… We were a team. That was really hard at the beginning. I used to feel guilty if I laughed, but he wouldn't want that. I've just started to go out when people invite me to things, which is good. I've got great support and I'm very, very lucky because there's a lot of people out there who haven't. And the Hospice is one of the main supports.

St Helena has been there from day one all the way through and they continue now. And I'm lucky, very lucky. No matter if I raised £3,000,000, nothing would ever repay those ladies and gents that came in and looked after him. 

I'll do anything to help the Hospice. I did a sky dive and that skydive was amazing. I’d do that again absolutely, it was fab. I was strapped to someone and you sit on the edge and then you just roll out free fall for 45 seconds. It was great. Straight through the clouds, which is amazing. And then he taps you on the shoulder and pulls the parachute and these parachutes keep you up in the air, they don't come straight down. So he took me round over the grandkids. The grandchildren, their faces when I got into that plane! Oh, it was amazing. I shouted, this is for you, Roger!  

Image: Roger Renders
Image: Di Renders

This story may not be published elsewhere without express permission from St Helena Hospice.


Related news and stories


I would bubble up without counselling

After her dad died earlier this year, 12 year old Grace and her younger sister Rose continued counselling with St Helena so they could talk about how they feel.

View more

We just clicked

Naomi and Georgina met in a nightclub and hit it off straight away, falling in love and announcing their engagement a year later. Then a month before their planned wedding, Naomi was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer, and then the country went into lockdown.

View more

Untold help and advice

After we supported ‘A’, his wife wanted to help reassure people who may be in need of support from St Helena too.

View more

Running for Mandy

Anna is training to run the Chelmsford marathon proudly wearing a St Helena vest embellished with the name of her friend Mandy who is receiving treatment for cancer. Anna’s own condition, functional neurological disorder, makes it an extra personal challenge.

View more

We listened to mum's wishes

Josephine Gunnee made sure she grasped every opportunity, and being diagnosed with a rare cancer didn’t stop her from going out with friends and spending time with her family

View more

He held mum's hand all night

Charlotte was delighted when she was told her mum, Marina, was going to be moved to the hospice. Despite having never been to a hospice before, she knew her mum was going to be cared for in a relaxed and homely environment

View more

Virtual Ward was invaluable

Christmas ended abruptly for Hazel Forster last year when her husband of 46 years was rushed to hospital after collapsing with a suspected stroke on Christmas Day.

View more

I have never felt so much love and compassion from complete strangers

In May, Louise Lovesey had to say goodbye to her sister, Claire Appleby, who had been living with cancer. A keen cyclist and runner, Louise was training for the Prudential Ride London 100 mile cycle to raise money for St Helena Hospice.

View more
Go to basket

Go to basket