Skip to comments.Elderly New York couple die hours apart holding hands
Posted on 02/20/2014 8:51:05 PM PST by EinNYC
He promised that he'd never leave her, and that included him dying before she did.
An 83-year-old man fulfilled his promise to his beloved wife of 60 years when they died just hours apart while holding hands in an upstate New York hospital earlier this month.
Floreen, 82, and Ed Hale of Bativa died 36 hours apart in a one-in-a-kind love story that nearly ended with Ed breaking his promise when they were frighteningly hospitalized miles away and both hours from death. "He said, 'no, I promise to take care of her for the rest of my life and if I have to carry her forever, I will," the couple's daughter Renee Hirsh told the Daily News of his vow. "He stayed committed to that to his last dying breath."
It was 1952 that the couple first locked eyes at a county dance, a moment that they'd describe to their children as love at first sight, as first reported by Orleans Hub.
Floreen was celebrating with her friends for the first time since surviving a head-on collision while driving with her then husband of six months, who was tragically killed.
Doctors erroneously told her she'd never walk again and would need someone always there caring for her. So when Ed Hale went to get permission from Floreen's parents to marry her, "they said 'absolutely not,'" said Hirsh. "'She's going to need someone to take care of her for the rest of her life.'"
Ed promised to be that man. Before he left their home, they accepted his proposal.
Their life was from then on a fairy-tale romance in which they were never apart. Ed would be called a "Saint" by friends and family who knew of the constant dotting he did on his wife.
That all nearly changed on January 31st of this year, however, when he was hospitalized for a leg injury that within days had grown gravely worse. Come the following Monday, he was moved to a Rochester hospital where doctors expected he'd die.
There he asked to see his wife to come see him, not knowing that on Tuesday Floreen had been hospitalized in Batavia for congested heart failure. After deteriorating health, she too was only given just hours to live. "He said, 'I need to see your mother, I need to talk to your mother,'" Hirsh recalled him telling her. "He probably realized 'I'm dying, I'm here. I need to see her.'"
"It was the worst day of my life," Hirsh acutely summed it up.
Meanwhile nurses at her father's hospital were calling her, begging her to come to his side, saying, "He's asking for his family."
That's when hospice got involved and pulled off a truly incredible act that depended on Ed, a man lying on his deathbed, to suddenly improve. They suggested transporting him to his wife's bedside at United Methodist Medical Center.
Just before 5 a.m. Thursday they called Hirsh saying, "we're going to do everything we can to help this situation," she recalled them saying. By 11:30 a.m., Hirsh said her father's condition was not stable, but he did rebound. It was just enough of an improvement to give the go-ahead for an ambulance to whisk him away.
At United Methodist, where two beds were put together in Floreen's room, she didn't completely understand or at least believe what was going on.
"She thought that maybe he had already died," said her daughter.
Then her loyal husband rolled into the room. "She just said, 'Edward, don't ever leave me again'" Hirsh recalled Floreen telling him.
Her father was in pain and barely breathing at this point, she described.
"He said, 'how long do you have?'" Hirsh recalled his jovial reply.
"He said, 'I just can't do this anymore. I love you so much,'" said Hirsh who stayed in the room.
"I said to my father, 'daddy it's OK you can go to Heaven, mom's here with you,'" she said. He refused. "He said, 'no not yet.' He kept looking over at her saying, 'no.'"
The couple held hands between their beds, and within minutes, Floreen died.
Hirsh said doctors and nurses had equally gathered to watch the couple whose bodies were said to be in complete synch on the medical charts.
In addition to this astonishing anomaly, Ed was reported as breathing only two breaths per minute. It was said to be just short of a medical record.
After a phone call from Hirsh's son who was unable to make it from Hawaii, and a visit from his last surviving sister, Ed died.
"My dad was a saint, my dad cared for her her entire life," said Hirsh. "He was a gentleman to the dying breath."
A joint funeral was held for the couple that Thursday, on the eve of Valentine's Day, at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Batavia.
After the service friends and family celebrated the couple's lives at Albion's Tillman Village Inn, where they held their wedding reception in May of 1953. "It's an amazing love story," said Hirsh of a story whose full magnitude she didn't realize until it was over. "We're kind of feeling very privileged that it's touched so many hearts."
Lovely story....hope they are reunited in Heaven.
If you’re lucky, that’s how you do it. RIP to them both.
May God grant them eternal companionship in Heaven. Such devotion!
Absolutely perfect song.
I tried to tell my wife this story and couldn’t get through it.
This story is just like the song. They were together for 60 years and in the end she was losing her mental health but recognized her husband.
Touching story, and unbelievably horrible writing, from the headline on down.
We had a elderly couple in our church who died within 24 hours of each other.