The couple gone to the same school, raised two kids together, got infected together, and passed away together.
Some couples are so connected with each other that living without the other becomes extremely hard. There are some older adults who die from the heartbreak of losing their partner because their love was that pure. In the case of a senior Texas couple, it surely seems to be true.
Betty and Curtis Tarpley, 80 and 79, respectively, were together for more than 53 years before passing away. They spent more time together during their lifetime than apart. They went to the same high school in Illinois, met and fell in love in California as adults, and went on to get married and have two kids together. After spending 53 years married, the couple passed away on June 18 within minutes of each other. Both of them had coronavirus.
The Texas couple spent their last moments holding hands, according to their son Tim, who spoke to CNN. The couple had been isolating since February and Tim is not sure how they were infected. Initially, his mom had been sick for a few days and complained of toothache and headache, as per Good Morning America (GMA). By June 9, she had to be rushed to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and she tested positive. Two days later, on June 11th, Curtis was admitted to the hospital as well.
Tim, 52, said that his father had underlying health conditions for more than a decade. Curtis had seemed well enough at first while Betty's condition declined. Tim and his sister, Tricia, were also allowed to visit their mother twice. During the first visit, she was not awake and during the second, she told them that she was "ready to go."
"It was heartbreaking to hear," Tim told GMA. "I tried to spur the will back into her and get her excited, but she just knew." He wasn't able to accept her decision initially. "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,'" he told CNN.
He had to tell his father about his mom and it didn't take long for his father's health to also decline. "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," Tim said. "I think he fought because he thought the team needed him, but he was also tired and he was in pain."
Eventually, the couple decided to go for comfort care, which involves heavy pain medications and no ventilators. On June 18, the end was upon them, but while they had been in separate rooms during their hospital stay, one ICU nurse Blake Throne tried his best to move them into the same one.
"It seemed like the right thing to do, the humane thing to do," said Blake Throne, an intensive care unit nurse treating Curtis, to GMA. "We felt like we had to get them together." He added to CNN, "I started inquiring about if it was even possible and then I started shaking the tree to try to get it done."
They were able to take Betty to the ICU so the couple could be side-by-side. Another nurse told Curtis that his wife was there and he tried to look at her but 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." Throne put Betty's hand on Curtis' arm and the couple said their goodbyes in that manner.
Throne said Betty passed away 20 minutes later and Curtis died about 45 minutes after her. "I honestly think they were so incapacitated that all they could do was talk with their souls or something, a special unspoken language," Tim told CNN. "They obviously knew each other well enough that they could communicate without words." To GMA, he said, "The nurses were incredible and I hope they know how much we appreciate their efforts to go above and beyond for my parents."
Their family plans to hold a celebration of life next year for the couple.