Den Pearce was a big character and an honest, hardworking man who lived in High Wycombe all his life. And as well as working for North Thames Gas for 48 years he was married to Jean for 62 years. Den and Jean had three daughters –Jane, Sally and Della.
Della, his youngest daughter, tells us all about Den.
“In February, aged 81, Dad was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) which is a blood disorder that causes a drop in your number of healthy blood cells. Dad didn’t want any treatment other than blood transfusions and although he suffered with tiredness and nosebleeds he got on with things as that was what Dad did.
“Also at this time my Mum, Jean, was starting to show the early signs of dementia but looking after Dad with me, Jane and Sally meant that she had a routine which made her condition more manageable.
“Later that year, in August, Dad was diagnosed with Leukemia but things remained pretty much on an even keel other than a few stays in hospital to treat infections. But in May the following year Dad developed a severe infection that the hospital couldn’t treat and we knew then that things were serious.
“He came home from hospital and that’s when the district nurses and Rennie Grove Hospice Care nurses started to care for Dad. A Rennie Grove nurse came to see us and explained everything really clearly in terms of how much and what kind of care they could give to Dad. It was this care that allowed us to become daughters again rather than his carers. I don’t know how they managed to do it but when Rennie Grove got involved we received a joined up service: they liaised with his consultant, his GP and even got the equipment he needed to make him comfortable at home sorted out.
“They provided me and my sisters with calm reassurance, practical advice and information and treated my Mum – whose condition had deteriorated by then – with patience and respect.
“Knowing that there was someone to call on day or night who knew my Dad and us was incredibly reassuring. Sometimes we just needed advice over the phone. Other times the nurses came out to see Dad to administer medication. We never felt awkward about asking any questions and the nurses were able to tell us when he was getting close to the end of his life. This in turn made it easier for me to talk to Dad about dying and asking how it felt. He said it felt as if everything was closing in and the nurses said that that was a natural feeling.
“Having Dad at home during his last weeks meant that his grandson Jacob and his great grandchildren could visit Dad in his home rather than a hospital environment. And as well as people visiting him Dad could also take pleasure in looking at the fitted wardrobes that he had built himself in his bedroom some 30 years earlier. With the help of Rennie Grove, dad was able to pass away looking at them.
“In the last week of Dad’s life he deteriorated but was comfortable and we all had the opportunity to ask questions and to make joint decisions about Dad with the Rennie Grove nurses. We were all with him when he passed away at home on 13 June.
“I felt that Dad had a peaceful end and a lovely death because of the Rennie Grove nurses. They showed compassion beyond belief, provided us with kind and factual advice and continued to support us after Dad had gone.“
Sometime after Den died and when a deterioration in Jean’s condition meant that she needed residential care, the family started to clear the family home and chose to donate items to the Rennie Grove Hospice Care charity shop in Downley. This coincided with a change in Della’s circumstances and she was looking for a change in career. And the outcome? Well now Della is assistant shop manager at Rennie Grove’s Holmer Green shop and absolutely loves it. Della said, “Claire the shop manager and all the volunteers have been so welcoming. As well as really enjoying the challenge of a new career in a busy customer-facing role, I am learning loads of new skills and have managed to recruit my sisters as volunteers in the shop too. I feel that that in some very small way I’m paying back the Rennie Grove nurses.”