When two people spend a lifetime weathering the joys and pains of life together, it seems fitting that their final days be spent hand in hand.
When Margaret and Don Livengood, married for 59 years, passed away on the same day, friends and family shared tears mingled with peace. The couple’s lifelong love story came to a perfect close.
The couple’s daughter, Pattie Beaver, was with her parents on their final day in the hospital. She had to plead with the hospital staff and advocate for her parents to share a hospital room, but everyone agreed Margaret and Don belonged together until the end.
“It was normal for them to be holding hands, their love was so precious,” Beaver said in an interview. “But it was the sweetest, most precious thing you can imagine to see them holding hands in the hospital.”
Beaver took her parents to the hospital on the same day both were feeling especially fatigued. Margaret, 80, was battling cancer, while Don, 84, was struggling with pulmonary fibrosis and bilateral pneumonia. Initially, they were placed in separate hospital rooms in Concord, North Carolina.
Beaver was adamant that her parents would be more comfortable together, and said it “broke my heart” to run from floor to floor checking on her parents separately. Thankfully, Don and Margaret were familiar patients at the hospital, and the medical staff came together to place the couple in the same room.
“I’m really proud,” said Dr. Randy Schisler, who treated the couple. “We stretched as far as we could with the rules to allow things that aren’t typical because it was the absolute right thing for these patients and for this family.”
After four days apart, Don and Margaret were reunited, positioned so they could hold hands from their hospital beds. They held hands as Margaret took her final breath in the morning. Later that evening, Don joined his wife.
“This is one of those cases I don’t think any of us is ever going to forget,” Dr. Schisler recalled. “Seeing these two people who had spent their lives together, together in the same room as they took their last breaths, none of us are ever going to forget this.”
Though fraught with grief, Beaver had peace knowing that her parents would have wanted their story to end this way. “In the most horrific grief I’ve ever had in my life, I still had comfort because they were together,” she recalled.
Don, who remained alert until the end, said he looked forward to leaving this world with his wife. “When we get to heaven, we can walk in together, just like we’re getting married again. Another honeymoon.”
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