Couple Married For 53 Years Hold Hands As They Die Of Coronavirus On The Same Day
MariamPublished in July 2020 / Updated in December 2020
Betty and Curtis Tarpley, a married couple, died of coronavirus in Texas while holding hands.
According to CNN, the 80-year-old Betty and 79-year-old Curtis died within less than an hour of each other and held hands during their final moments together.
The couple’s son, Tim Tarpley, told the network his mother, Betty, showed symptoms of coronavirus just before she was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth on June 9, only to be followed by her husband two days later.
As Betty’s condition continued to decline, she phoned both her son and his sister and told them she was at peace with death.
“I just screamed, ‘No!’ I was like, ‘I’ve got too much, too many other things to do in this life that I want to show you, and I’m not ready,'” Tarpley recalled to CNN.
The hospital allowed Tarpley and his sister to visit their mom twice. On the first visit, Betty was heavily medicated and didn’t really know they were at the hospital.
Their mom was alert and making jokes when they came back the next day. However, her son said it was clear that she was uncomfortable, and doctors told him she didn’t have much time left.
Tarpley then called his dad to update him on Betty’s condition and to tell him how much he loved him.
Once the family told Curtis about his wife’s worsening condition, his health began to suffer too.
“I really feel like he was fighting because he was supposed to and once he knew she wasn’t gonna make it, then he was okay with, you know, taking it to the house,” Tarpley said of his father.
“I think he fought because he thought the team needed him, but he was also tired and he was in pain,” he continued.
It happened so quickly that the son and his sister weren’t able to see their dad again.
The couple, who had been married for 53 years, were in separate rooms while receiving their treatment.
After that, they were allowed to stay together in comfort care. According to CNN, an ICU nurse at the hospital, Blake Throne, did his best to make that possible.
Tarpley said that this nurse who he’d never even spoken to arranged for the couple to be together. Both had decided to enter comfort care, where they were given heavy doses of medication to ease their pain.
“It felt like the right thing to do was to get them together,” Throne told the outlet. “I started inquiring about if it was even possible and then I started shaking the tree to try to get it done.”
Throne said that moving Betty to the ICU was a team effort, but they eventually succeeded in that so she and her husband could stay beside each other.
When a nurse told Curtis that his wife was there, he tried to look over at her. But their son said he was very weak.
“His eyes opened and his eyebrows went up,” Throne said. “He knew what we said. He knew that she was there.”
After they were placed together, Betty died in about 20 minutes, and her husband Curtis followed her around 45 minutes later.
While they couldn’t speak to each other in their final minutes, their son believes they were still able to comfort each other.
“I honestly think they were so incapacitated that all they could do was talk with their souls or something, a special unspoken language,” he said. “They obviously knew each other well enough that they could communicate without words.”
Tarpley said that he was grateful to the hospital staff for showing empathy and kindness to them. “That’s what makes them the best,” he said.
Tarpley doesn’t know how his parents caught the virus, but he had to quarantine because he caught it from them. Tarpley’s mom and dad had mostly been in isolation since March, but he had been visiting them every couple of days to check in on them.
The loyal couple was together for most of their lives, they went to the same high school in Illinois, fell in love in California, and they eventually got married and had their two kids.
Tim said that their family and friends hope to be able to celebrate Betty and Curtis’s life next year.
Coronavirus continues to spread all over the United States, with the country seeing more than 3.24 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 136 thousand coronavirus deaths as of July 11th.