Jackie couldn’t love any man more than husband Ron. Married for 23 years they had two children and given the choice would spend every moment together.
But one day Jackie received some terrible news. On a night out with friends Ron had tried to calm down a man who was arguing with his girlfriend. The man had attacked him and he was in hospital in a coma.
Over the next few weeks Ron’s life lay in the balance. Jackie was devastated but fortunately Ron’s best friend Bernard and his wife stepped in to support her, driving her to and from hospital.
Thankfully one day Jackie turned up on he ward to find Ron sat up in bed. But shockingly she barely recognised him. He was paralysed down one side of his face and he couldn’t speak.
The assault had left Ron – a man who’d once had a wicked sense of humour – brain-damaged. He couldn’t walk, his food had to be liquidised and he struggled to talk.
A lot of friends didn’t know how to cope with the new Ron and shied away visiting. Only Bernard was wonderful. He would wash him, take him out in a wheelchair and even take Ron to the toilet.
Ron couldn’t say much but often when Bernard spoke to him, he’d roar with laughter. It was such a comfort to Jackie.
Over time Ron learnt to say Jackie’s name and smiled when she visited. Eventually she brought him home.
Months passed and the man who’d assaulted Ron was jailed for three years.
But the family’s life was shattered. Jackie became Ron’s full time carer, sleeping downstairs on a bed beside him.
Ron was like a child – and Jackie was heartbroken. The happy confident Ron was gone and she missed him terribly.
And when a few weeks later they went on holiday together and she leant over one evening and tried to kiss him and he looked shocked, she wept that their marriage as she’d known it was over.
Meanwhile, Bernard was always there and one day Jackie realised she was attracted to Bernard. Immediately she was horrified – after all Bernard was married.
But one evening Bernard admitted he felt the same way about Jackie. They tried to stop themselves but soon began meeting up in secret.
Months went by and finally they couldn’t carry on in secret any more and Bernard ended his marriage. But he told Jackie: “I’d never ask you to leave Bernard.”
So Bernard moved in with them. The three of them would go on daytrips. Jackie and Bernard were careful not to show any affection between them in front of Ron. And with his best friend also there to care for him Ron was happier than he’d been for a long time.
However in time Ron’s health worsened and aged 55, five years after the assault, he died. Jackie was desolate with grief. She and Bernard were lost without Ron. They missed his laughter and the time they both spent with him.
But at least they could grieve together. Finally two years later they wed.
Jackie says: “Bernard and I think about Ron all the time and every year we light a candle in his memory.
“We know some people struggle to understand our love but we refuse to apologise for it. We’re happy and that’s what Ron would have wanted.”
Jackie’s incredible real life story is now due to appear over two pages in another bestselling women’s magazine and then over a double page in a national newspaper. Jackie is also considering a TV request.
She said: “I have just been out to get the magazine. I am very pleased with the article.”
Jackie’s book – In the Blink of an Eye – was credited in Take a Break. To read the full emotional and heartbreaking story, you can buy it on lulu.com and it is available as a paperback or ebook.