North Carolina Couple of 59 Years Dies Holding Hands: 'When We Get to Heaven, We Can Walk in Together'
"It was the sweetest, most precious thing you can imagine to see them holding hands in the hospital," the couple's daughter, Pattie Beaver, tells PEOPLE
After 59 years of marriage, family and friends weren’t surprised things ended the bittersweet way they did for Margaret and Don Livengood.
The couple – inseparable since the day they met – spent their last few days holding hands, side by side in a single hospital room, and died within hours of each other.
“It was normal for them to be holding hands, their love was so precious,” the couple’s daughter, Pattie Beaver, tells PEOPLE. “But it was the sweetest, most precious thing you can imagine to see them holding hands in the hospital.”
Beaver brought her parents to the hospital on the same day. Margaret, 80, was suffering from cancer, while Don, 84, was fighting to breathe because of pulmonary fibrosis and bilateral pneumonia. When they arrived, they were one floor apart at Carolinas Healthcare System Northeast in Concord, North Carolina.
“It broke my heart,” Beaver says, recalling how she’d have to run from floor to floor to help care for her parents. She couldn’t stand the thought that they couldn’t see each other and pleaded with hospital staff to bring them together.
Hospital Chaplain Beth Jackson-Jordan was working with the family and says the doctors and nurses had gotten to know the couple in recent months as each came in for treatment and knew they belonged in the same room.
“The need for them to be together overrode any of the other normal concerns,” she says.
Dr. Randy Schisler treated both Margaret and Don and says the hospital staff truly came together to make it happen.
“I’m really proud. 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,” he tells PEOPLE.
After four days apart, nurses moved Margaret’s bed into her husband’s room and positioned them so that they could see each other, and of course, hold hands.
“Once they were together, it was just that sense of everything was going to be okay – we knew because they were together,” Beaver says.
Dr. Schisler says he’s never seen anything like it. “This is one of those cases I don’t think any of us is ever going to forget. 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.”
One of the other hospital chaplains, Denise Hopper, tells PEOPLE, “I remember her beside him even when she wasn’t able to communicate… I remember him holding her hand and everybody in the room could feel and see the connection. It was very touching to know they had journeyed their entire lives – and as it came to the end of their lives, they were able to be together.”
Despite losing both of her parents in the same day, Beaver says, “It gave me comfort to know that this is exactly what they would want and the hospital was able to make that happen. In the most horrific grief I’ve ever had in my life, I still had comfort because they were together.”
Margaret died around 8 a.m. on Aug. 15. Don passed away later that day, shortly after 5 p.m.
Don was alert until the end, telling his daughter he was grateful he and Margaret could take this last journey together.
Beaver remembers sitting at her father’s bedside and being in awe when he said of his wife, “When we get to heaven, we can walk in together, just like we’re getting married again. Another honeymoon.”