A hospitalized North Carolina couple insisted on holding hands as death parted them after 59 years of marriage. Don Livengood’s final words were he would like to walk in heaven with his wife, Margaret, just like they were on another honeymoon.
Family and friends noted they cannot remember an instance when the couple was separated. So, it was no surprise they wanted to spend their last hours together. On Aug. 15, Margaret Livengood, 80, died in a hospital room she shared with Don, 84, who follwed her a few hours later.
“It was normal for them to be holding hands, their love was so precious,”
said their daughter, Pattie.
Pattie also said she cannot imagine a sweeter, more precious thing than two people staying inseparable even on their deathbeds.
Hospital Staffers Made it Happen
The woman said she took her parents to Carolinas Healthcare System Northeast hospital on the same day. Margaret needed medical assistance as her cancer symptoms got worse, while Don had breathing difficulties because of pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis. But on the first day in hospital, they had their rooms one floor apart.
Their daughter said that detail made it really hard for her to care for her parents. She told how she had to run from floor to floor, with the disquieting thought that her parents were separated.
But upon her request, the couple was reunited. Over their last months, both doctors and nurses paid special attention to them and knew they stayed in the same room, according to Hospital Chaplain Beth Jackson-Jordan.
Pattie said that it was so important for them to be together that they ignored any other normal concerns. Randy Schisler who was the doctor of both patients praised hospital staffers for their efforts to make it happen.
Dr. Schisler explained he and his colleagues stretched the rules as far as they could for the couple. He explained the situation was not typical for the hospital, but added it was “the absolute right thing” to do.
Don and Margret stayed separated for just four days until nurses placed the woman’s bed into her husband’s room. The couple was happy to be able to make visual contact again and hold hands.
Their daughter said she had a feeling that everything will be ok the very moment her parents got back together.
We will Never Forget
The couple’s physician acknowledged that he has never seen anything like it before. He also noted that the case was so emotionally charged, no one would ever forget. Dr. Schisler was impressed that two people can spend their lives together and decide to be together until their last breaths.
“None of us are ever going to forget this,”
Hospital chaplain Denise Hopper said in an interview she could remember how Don held his wife’s hand even when she lost ability to communicate. Hopper added that the connection was so intense everyone in the room could feel it.
Their daughter said she went through “horrific grief” on the day she lost them. But she added the fact that the hospital gave them what they wanted most somehow comforted her.
Pattie noted her mother died around 8 a.m. and her father about nine hours later. She recalls her father told her about her mother shortly before dying:
“When we get to heaven, we can walk in together, just like we’re getting married again. Another honeymoon.”