After 53 years of marriage, a Texas couple died holding hands with Covid-19


On June 18, after 53 years as a married couple, the two died of coronaviruses within an hour of each other in a Texas hospital, spending their last moments together holding hands, their son told CNN.

Tim Tarpley said his 80-year-old mother had been ill for a few days when he took her to Harris Health Texas Fort Worth Methodist Hospital and discovered that she had Covid-19.

She was admitted on June 9 and her 79-year-old father was admitted on June 11.

Tarpley, 52, said his father was in the ICU and seemed fine. The nurses were even able to take Curtis to Betty’s unit, so they could spend time together.

Betty’s condition decreased, and Tarpley said she called him and his sister, Tricia, and told them that “she was ready to go.”

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It took time for him to make peace with his decision.

“I just yelled ‘No!’ I thought, ‘I have a lot of other things to do in this life that I want to show you and I’m not ready,’ “he said.

Hospital staff allowed Tarpley and his sister to visit their mother twice, she said.

On the first visit she was heavily medicated and didn’t really know they were there.

She was alert and telling jokes when they returned the next day, but Tarpley said it was clear she was uncomfortable and that doctors said she didn’t have much time.

Tarpley said he called his father to inform him of his mother’s condition and told him how much he loved him.

Soon after receiving the update from her children, Curtis’ oxygen levels plummeted.

“I really feel like he liked fighting because he was supposed to, and once he knew she wasn’t going to make it, he agreed, you know, taking him home,” said Tarpley. “I think he fought because he thought the team needed him, but he was also tired and in pain.”

It happened so fast that Tarpley and his sister were unable to see their father again.

‘The right thing was to put them together’

Tarpley said a nurse he had never spoken with arranged for his mom and dad to be together. Both had decided to receive comfort care, which involved giving them large doses of medication to ease their pain.

“I felt it was the right thing to get them together,” said Blake Throne, one of the ICU nurses who cares for Curtis. “I started asking if it was possible and then I started shaking the tree to try to do it.”

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Throne said it took a team effort, but they were able to transfer Betty to the ICU so that she and her husband could be side by side.

When another nurse told Curtis that Betty was there, he tried to look at her. But Throne said he was very weak.

“His eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up,” Throne said. “He knew what we were saying. He knew she was there.”

Throne said he then put Betty’s hand on Curtis’s arm.

Communicate without words.

“Honestly, I think they were so disabled that all they could do was talk to their souls or something, a special language not spoken,” said Tarpley. “Obviously they knew each other well enough to be able to communicate without words.”

Betty died after about 20 minutes, and Curtis died about 45 minutes later, Throne said.

Tarpley said he was grateful for the empathy and friendliness of the hospital staff.

“That is what makes them the best,” he said.

Tarpley said he does not know how his parents obtained Covid-19, but said he had to be quarantined because he removed them. She said her mother and father had been mostly isolated since March, but that she visited them every other day to register.

That time together further strengthened their relationship, which, according to Tarpley, gave him “another level of peace.”

He said family and friends look forward to celebrating Betty and Curtis’ life next year.

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