Couple Married For 53 Years Die Holding Hands Within An Hour Of Each Other
A couple who were married for 53 years died within an hour of each other, spending their last moments holding hands.
80-year-old Betty Tarpley and her husband, 79-year-old Curtis Tarpley, were together for most of their lives after first meeting at high school in Illinois, later falling in love in California as adults.
Tragically, the couple passed away on June 18 after being admitted to a Texas hospital fewer than two weeks earlier with COVID-19. They did so holding hands, after a nurse arranged for Betty and Curtis to be together in their final moments.
Betty had been sick for a few days when her son Tim took her to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. It was there she received her diagnosis, and she was admitted on June 9.
Curtis was admitted just two days later on June 11 with the same diagnosis, with 52-year-old Tim telling CNN his dad initially seemed to be doing well. Nurses had even been able to wheel Curtis to Betty’s unit so they could spend some time together.
Betty’s condition soon declined, however, and Tim and his sister Tricia received a phone call from her telling them she was ‘ready to go’. Tim couldn’t accept it at first, explaining: ‘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’.’
After doctors informed him she didn’t have much time left, Tim called his dad to update him on his mum’s condition and told him how much he loved him. Shortly after, Curtis’s oxygen levels fell.
I really feel like he 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.
I think he fought because he thought the team needed him, but he was also tired and he was in pain.
Curtis’s decline happened so quickly that Tim and Tricia weren’t able to see their dad again, although they did get to visit their mum before she died.
Thankfully, Betty and Curtis were able to be together in their last moments. ‘It felt like the right thing to do was to get them together,’ said Blake Throne, one of the ICU nurses caring for Curtis.
After enquiring whether it was possible, Blake and his team were able to move Betty to the ICU so she and her husband of five decades could be side by side.
When another nurse told Curtis that Betty was right there next to him, he tried to look over at her. ‘His eyes opened and his eyebrows went up,’ Blake said. ‘He knew what we said. He knew that she was there.’
As he was extremely weak, Blake then put Betty’s hand on Curtis’s arm. ‘I honestly think they were so incapacitated that all they could do was talk with their souls or something, a special unspoken language,’ Tim said. ‘They obviously knew each other well enough that they could communicate without words.’
Betty passed away after about 20 minutes and Curtis died 45 minutes later, with Tim saying he was grateful for the hospital staff’s empathy and kindness. ‘That’s what makes them the best,’ he said.
He said they hope to be able to have a celebration of Betty and Curtis’s life next year.
Rest in peace, Betty and Curtis.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
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