Letter from Dr CharlesFox to the late Grace Jarnell's daughter

Letter from Dr CharlesFox to the late Grace Jarnell's daughter

Charles and Anna Fox, Fiveways, Gayton, Northampton NN7 3EX

t: 01604 859444 e: charles@foxfam.demon.co.uk

11th November 2014

Helen Bridgeman, Weston Favell, NN3

Dear Helen and Martin

It was very kind of Martin to let me know about the final days of your dear mother's life. It must be a very hard time for you both as there was a very strong bond of love between you and Grace.

It sounds as though her care both in Beaumont Nursing Home and in Kettering Hospital was exemplary. They took Grace at face value and although the medical situation was looking pretty bleak, they did all they could to try and preserve her life, without causing her unnecessary pain and suffering. She was thus spared a long period of complete dependency on others, which she would have found very hard to bear.

I well remember meeting Grace for the first time in the old Wednesday afternoon diabetic clinic soon after she migrated south from Harrogate. She had built up a very good relationship with the consultant in Harrogate and when she came to her first clinic in Northampton with a new consultant who was very wet behind the ears, she was behaving in a slightly unusual way and I disgraced myself by failing to realise that she was hypo. Eventually the penny dropped and after a drop of Lucozade, she became entirely normal. Grace forgave my lack of clinical acumen and we went on to develop the close and trusting relationship, which is what makes it such a privilege to be a diabetes specialist.

Over more than 30 years, I became very fond of Grace and admired her approach to diabetes, which can be described as No Nonsense and Can Do. Whenever I came up with a new suggestion about her diabetes, this would be carefully considered, discussed with Keith and then she would make her decision. Grace and Keith really did have an unusual relationship, in which they were entirely there for the other person, though you must have experienced this at much closer range than I. Keith had developed a sixth sense, which detected Grace's hypos long before she knew about them and he was able to gently persuade her to take corrective action. Having observed thousands of marriages where one partner has diabetes, I can say that it either drives two people apart or cements their relationship - your parents were the very best example of the latter.

It is a tragic fact that as Grace became increasingly frail and dependent on others, Keith had a recurrence of his depression. His greatest regret was that when her needs were at their greatest, he was cooped up in Berrywood Hospital. Your decision as a couple to come up to Northampton to support them altered the whole picture and for the first time, Keith could relax in the knowledge that Grace was getting all the care she needed from you both. From my point of view it was a joy to have Keith in Berrywood as I was able to spend many happy hours in his company. In his self-effacing way, he let me know that he had been a talented fighter pilot and would have made a successful career in the RAF except he did not think that would be fair to Grace. He left the forces to become an industrial chemist and the rest is history. I also learnt how grateful he was that you disrupted your own lives for the sake of your mother and how very proud he is of Eloise - she really is the apple of his eye.

Grace was such a powerful person that life without her is going to be very hard for you. Her vivacity and energy were phenomenal and she was a very happy and fulfilled woman because of the love her children and Keith had for her. She bore the suffering of her last few years with great courage and this is an example to me and others of how to behave, when the going gets tough. The diabetes community in Northampton has lost its greatest role model.

With my sincere affection,

Charles Fox