“He never leaves my side”: Blacktown Hospital patient shares love story for the ages

“Having someone by your side for 64 years and then having them gone is a pain like no other. It is a pain that doesn’t fade, only hides in the good moments.”

84-year-old Blacktown Hospital Patient Renee Roche makes sure she never forgets to tell her late husband Jim how her day was and wish him goodnight – even if she can only do this through a photo.

In fact, Jim followed Renee to Blacktown Hospital after she was bought into the emergency department following a fall from her chair.

“My chair went one way, my body went one way, and my leg went the other,” Renee recalled.

“I was getting up off my chair, which was on wheels for some silly reason, and I lost my balance.

“I have a fractured ankle that requires multiple surgeries and a lot of rehabilitation.”

A love story for the ages

Renee met Jim in 1953 when she was only 17. He was working in the air force with her father and swept her off her feet, literally.

“We were at a ball for the air force workers, and he asked me to dance,” Renee said.

“I had seen him around a couple of times before then when I was with my father, and we spoke as if we were friends, but I never thought he had eyes for me.

After the ball, we ran home in the rain; it was like something off a movie.”

Jim and Renee married two years after their night at the ball and never looked back.

“I found my soul mate that night,” Renee said.

“I remember standing with him at my front door after he had dropped me home, scared of what my father would say. My father opened the doors, gave him a big hug, and invited him in for a drink! The rest is history.”

Jim Roche was an aircraft engineer. After serving in the Royal Australian Air Force, he took his skills to Qantas, where he remained working for the rest of his career.

“I followed him around the world. The life he gave me was extraordinary. You name it, and we have probably been there. From Japan to Peru, Mexico to Bermuda,” Renee said.

“When Jim fell ill, he didn’t let it dampen his spirits, and he was kicking until the day he passed.”

Jim passed away in 2019 due to leukemia and prostate cancer.

“The pain you feel when you lose your loved one is indescribable. He was my partner in crime.” Renee said.

“Four kids, 10 grandkids and 17 great-children later, we still loved each other just as must as we did when we were young.

“I couldn’t have asked for someone better. He worshipped the children and never forgot to remind me how much he loved me.

“Even now, I can feel him with me, he never leaves my side.”

The road ahead

Despite the long road to recovery, Renee is in good spirits and praises the Blacktown Hospital staff for their commitment to her care during Patient Experience Week.

“The staff and facility here at Blacktown are amazing,” the 84 year old said.

My daughter wanted to transfer me to a private hospital, but I told her no – I am staying.

“They never miss a beat and never fail to meet my every need.”

Orthopaedic Nurse Unit Manager Marilyn Legaspi who is responsible for Renee’s care, said patient care and patient experience is their number one priority.

“We see a lot of patients every year, and it is important to ensure each individual patient is receiving the best care possible.”

“We want them to feel as comfortable as possible, and if that means going above and beyond each time, we will do it.

“Renee will be here for a while, but she is in good hands. Her spirit brings a smile to everyone’s face. We are sure Jim is keeping a close eye on her from above.”

Good luck Renee, we wish you a speedy recovery!

NSW Health is celebrating Patient Experience Week 26-30 April and our focus is on putting the heart in healthcare.

Visit our new Elevating the Human Experience hub to find out more and let us know what a great patient experience means to you.