In the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. For Rod and Linda Allen, it was a passionate love story cut short too soon. After meeting on an RSL dance floor five years ago, the couple had a whirlwind romance.
“I saw this gentleman standing against a bar watching me dance but he was watching my feet,” Mrs Allen said. “He said I was the best dancer in the room, handed me his business card and asked if I would give him some dance lessons. We ended up sharing the last dance of the night together.”
By the following week they were dating and spent many a night dancing together. Soon afterwards, the couple devised a bucket list and were determined to tick off as many things on that list as possible.
“Before I met Rod I hadn’t really travelled before, other than going to Bali for my son’s wedding,” Mrs Allen said. “Rod loved travelling and he wanted to share that with me. We travelled everywhere together, we went to Barcelona, the Mediterranean, Venice, Africa, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Phuket. We landed on a glacier in a helicopter in New Zealand and in June this year we did the top end of Australia. He loved seeing the look on my face when I visited a place for the first time.”
Mrs Allen said their life together was fun-filled and memorable. “We laughed together every day till our bellies hurt and we had tears in our eyes,” she said. “Rod had an incredible sense of humour, we were soul mates and best friends, we completed each other. He is the love of my life.”
Sadly, their love story was cut short. In September 2018, Mr Allen relapsed with advanced ocular melanoma, a rare eye cancer that occurs in around one per cent of the population. Ocular melanoma is a rare subtype of melanoma that is resistant to most treatments. But he still managed to make the most of his remaining time.
“We have been basically inseparable since we met, it was like we had been together for 45 years rather than five,” Mrs Allen said. “We didn’t let his diagnosis stop us doing anything, we lived in the moment and tried not to project too much into the future. If you can’t change things, why worry about them?”
Mr Allen was admitted to Cabrini in September in the very advanced stage of his condition. Knowing Mr Allen didn’t have long left, the couple decided to get married in Cabrini’s chapel.
“We had planned to get married sooner but it didn’t happen, it all seemed too hard, then one day we thought ‘no, we are just going to do this’,” Mrs Allen said.
On Tuesday 17 September, the couple were married in the Cabrini Malvern chapel, surrounded by a small crowd who watched on as the couple exchanged vows.
“I arrived at Cabrini at 11.20 am and we were married at midday, it was all very quick but everyone pulled out all the stops to organise the ceremony and make it a special day for us,” she said.
“Knowing that we were going to be married gave Rod a new lease on life. The utter joy he had when he told people we were getting married was heartfelt.”
“He was so happy to be able to call me his wife.”
“It is a feeling of completeness.”
Mr Allen died peacefully two days later, on Thursday 19 September, with his wife by his side. Mrs Allen said she was overwhelmed by the compassion and support she and Rod had experienced at Cabrini.
“The team at Cabrini were all angels, particularly the pastoral care team. They listened to us and what we wanted and they couldn’t have done more to make Rod feel comfortable. When we decided to get married, everyone helped out, we had sandwiches and lunch and we even had a cake, which turned up out of nowhere. It was a beautiful day and I am so happy we got to share it together.”
Cabrini Manager Pastoral and Bereavement Services Catherine Carr said Cabrini provided a holistic approach to caring for patients, whatever their needs or stage of life.
“Pastoral practitioners understand that even at the end of our physical lives there can be a lot of living left to fulfil,” Ms Carr said.
“When Rod and Linda requested to be married at the Cabrini chapel, we did everything within our powers to ensure they had a meaningful and beautiful ceremony.”
“It is often at the end of life that people realise what is truly important. Our pastoral care team listens with their hearts to help patients and their families find hope and strength in times of illness.”
To find out more about Cabrini's pastoral and bereavement services click here.