A couple, married for 72 years, die holding hands

Those who know me well know that my favourite poem is Pablo Neruda’s Love Sonnet XVII.

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.


I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.


I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

Yesterday, as I worked past the point of tiredness, I came upon a story of a man and a woman who had been married for 72 years, and it reminded me of this Love Sonnet.  I’d like to share that story with you.


Without the other, neither wanted to live, according the children of an elderly couple that died last week.


Gordon Yeager, 94, and his wife Norma, 90, were married for 72 years, reports LifeSiteNews. However, their life together ended Wednesday after they were both injured in a car crash. They arrived at a local hospital so badly hurt that officials saw hey could not recover, according to ABC news.


They were placed together in a bed, where they lay holding hands. Even then, says their son, Dennis Yeager, the couple’s concern was only for each other.


“She was saying her chest hurt and what’s wrong with Dad? Even laying there like that, she was worried about Dad,” he said. “And his back was hurting and he was asking about Mom.”


Gordon died at 3:38. But people in the room at the time say they were confused when Gordon stopped breathing, but his heart monitor continued to pick up a heartbeat. That was when they realized that the monitor was detecting Norma’s heartbeat, through their clasped hands.


“And we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom’s heart is beating through him,’” Dennis Yeager said.


Norma died an hour later.


“Dad used to say that a woman is always worth waiting for,” Dennis Yeager said. “Dad waited an hour for her and held the door for her.”

Source: Beliefnet News

I was close to tears reading that story. The last few lines of Neruda’s Love Sonnet superimposed itself on the image of this dear couple, their hands locked as one. A line from another of Neruda’s sonnet’s entered my mind. It was a phrase I had used in Fuel, “By night, Love, tie your heart to mine, and the two, together in their sleep will defeat the darkness.

Unsure of who the special people in your life are? Ask yourself this question, “Who would I l like to spend my final moments with?” Jot their names down in your mind, and never again put anyone or anything ahead of them, not a screaming client or a nincompoop boss or the year’s most anticipated football game. I’m still young, and have not journeyed to the very end to know if I’m meting out good advice, but deep down, I know you will not regret doing this.



2 thoughts on “A couple, married for 72 years, die holding hands

  1. That will make some story won’t it. I’ve got this other story I’d really like to write… but it is a very depressing one. Don’t want to be labelled as that kind of writer. Am interested to write something along the lines of the Bourne series.

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