Jun 20, 2013
7 Enduring Love Stories That Death Could Not Seperate
“Do you think our love is strong enough to take us away together?”
This quote from the novel and film, The Notebook, is considered by many to be one of the most powerful and romantic lines from any story. The question epitomizes the last act of unconditional love between the story’s main characters, Noah and Allie. Those familiar with Nicholas Sparks’ beloved tale know that Noah and Allie’s enduring devotion spans from the moment the couple meet as teenagers until they pass away holding hands together in a nursing home bed. The moment when Allie and Noah depart the world together struck a romantic cord in so many because it demonstrated how true love can transcend death
The more dramatic elements in the Notebook may make Noah and Allie’s relationship seem unrealistic to some. Many are unaware their story was largely inspired by the love shared between the grandparents of the author’s wife. What makes Noah and Allie’s tale even more relatable, however, is the fact that so many real-life couples share the same beautiful ending to their story. These couples shared an everlasting devotion that inspired everyone around them to love wholeheartedly. Their enduring passion for one another never waived, even during the final moments of their lives. And their love was strong enough to take them away together.
These are their stories.
From: State Center, Iowa
Married for: 72 Years
How they met: Gordon and Norma Yeager were lifelong companions who rarely left each other’s side. In 1939, the couple got married within 12 hours of their engagement on the day of Norma’s high school graduation. For more than seven decades, Gordon and Norma traveled, worked and raised their two children together. They even participated in the same clubs and ran family businesses so they could remain close to one another at all times.
Their enduring love story: Norma and Gordon spent their lives side-by-side and that is the same way they left this world. The couple was driving into town when a car accident sent them both to the hospital with injuries. Both Norma and Gordon were highly concerned about one another, asking their children how the other was doing until it became clear to the hospital they should be moved into the same room. According to witnesses which included family and hospital staff, when Gordon’s breathing stopped, his heart still continued beating on the monitors. It wasn’t until Norma passed an hour later that it finally stopped, leading their loved ones to believe that Gordon waited so they could enter the afterlife together.
“All their life has been together,” said the couple’s daughter, Donna Sheets. “So, when it came to the funeral home, the family asked, ‘Can we have them put in the casket together holding hands?’ Because that’s the way their life was.”
From: Southwest Ranches, Florida
Married for: 45 years
How they met: When Tom was working as a game warden in the Florida Everglades, he stopped at a drug store where Shirley worked. The couple quickly discovered a shared love for the outdoors. The adventure seekers were inseparable during their marriage as they raised their four children and explored the Florida Everglades and other distant locations together. Both Tom and Shirley had a strong connection to the Everglades where they loved airboating and camping. They were dedicated to preserving it for future generations.
Their enduring love story: Earlier this year, Tom was hospitalized for heart trouble. As Shirley was being driven from her home to visit him, she also suffered a heart attack and passed away. Unknown to Shirley, Tom had passed away just 15 minutes earlier in the hospital. The couple never learned of the other’s passing and were both spared the pain of losing their spouse. The legacy they left behind includes four children and eight grandchildren.
The couple’s son, Troy Shirley, told reporters, “Dad didn’t know that she had passed, and she didn’t know that he had passed. I don’t understand it, but it’s beautiful.”
From: Batavia, NY
Married for: 60 years
How they met: Several months before Ed and Floreen met, Floreen survived a car accident that tragically took the life of her husband of only 3 months and doctors mistakenly told her she would not walk again. Then at a county dance in 1952, Ed and Floreen’s eyes met and it was love at first sight. Ed was determined to marry Floreen despite her injuries, telling her skeptical parents that he was willing to carry her in his arms every day for the rest of their lives. Throughout their marriage, he doted on her, earning the nickname “Saint Ed” from friends and relatives for his unwavering devotion.
Their enduring love story: When Ed was diagnosed with kidney failure, he refused to allow the illness to prevent him from taking Floreen on special trips. He fought hard for five years, wanting to keep the promise he’d made that he would not die until after she did. After a leg injury grew gravely worse, he was taken to a local hospital where doctors expected him to pass. At the same time, Floreen was being taken to a different hospital 35 miles away with conjunctive heart failure. Ed was determined to be with Floreen and after expressing his wishes to everyone around him, a hospice nurse helped the two hospitals to coordinate a transfer. They would accept Ed as a patient at Floreen’s hospital if he could survive the 35-mile trip. Miraculously, Ed rebounded and was able to make the journey. He was taken to Floreen’s room where the hospital staff moved their beds close together so the couple could hold hands. Astonishingly, witnesses say their bodies were in complete sync on the medical charts. Ed kept his promise, waiting for Floreen to go before he passed away 36 hours later.
“My dad was a saint, my dad cared for her his entire life,” said Renee Hirsh, the couple’s daughter. “He was a gentleman to the dying breath.”
From: Monroe, NC
Married for: 64 years
How they met: After returning from the war in 1948, Frank stopped at a car dealership and immediately noticed Eleanor working as a secretary. When the car salesman asked if he wanted to take a test car, he said only if Eleanor came with him on the drive. The two were married only a few months later. Frank and Eleanor spent more than six decades together, raising two children and traveling to live in different areas around the country.
Their enduring love story: When Eleanor began to suffer from early signs of dementia, the family decided to put her in a nursing home. Frank visited frequently, not wanting to be apart from his wife, even when he began experiencing his own symptoms. Several months later, Frank moved into the nursing home too. Instead of ringing for a nurse, Eleanor would call Frank who was always nearby to attend to his wife’s needs. Then, both Frank and Eleanor suffered a stroke at the same time. The couple’s daughter captured a moving photo of them holding hands in the hospital during their last moments together. Shortly afterward, Eleanor was moved to a hospice facility and passed away four days later. Frank died only a few hours later, unaware of Eleanor’s passing.
The couple’s daughter, Linda Purser, told reporters, “They thought alike; they both wanted the same things out of life. They were the same. And they were lost without each other.”
From: Westmont, PA
Married for: 65 years
How they met: James and Marjorie met at a dance while they were both with other people. The chemistry was instant. The two quickly became a couple and married in 1946. Throughout their lives, the couple was inseperable and their two children have a difficult time locating any photo of them where they were not together. They had a strong, shared faith and enjoyed many of the same activities, including bird watching and board games.
Their enduring love story: James was at Marjorie’s side when she passed away following a long illness. The couple’s granddaughter, Erin Miller, told reporters the last thing James said to Marjorie was: “It’s OK. I love you. We had many good years together. I will see you real soon.” Only 88 minutes later, James suffered a heart attack and passed away.
“I just think he died of a broken heart,” Miller said. “I don’t think they could have lived apart from each other.”
From: Long Beach, CA
Married for: 75 years
How they met: Les and Helen grew up on opposite sides of the tracks. Their families came from different worlds. Les’s father was an ambitious businessman and landowner while Helen’s father worked for the railroad. Even though their families didn’t approve, Les and Helen knew it was a sign that they shared the same birthday. The couple eloped in 1937 shortly after meeting in high school. During their lifetime, they remained active into their 90s and as Jehovah’s Witnesses, shared a strong faith that strengthened their marriage.
Their enduring love story: The couples’ health began to fail around the same time, with Les suffering from Parkinson and Helen receiving news that she had stomach cancer. Then, Les fell into a coma and doctors told the family he would pass away in a matter of days. Although Helen was expected to live for several more months, she suddenly became ill and passed away. Les followed only a day later, unaware of Helen’s death. The family was comforted by the fact that their parents never faced the pain of grieving for one another. They were born on the same day and left the world only one day apart.
“After 78 years, they were very much in love,” said Daniel Brown, the couple’s youngest son. “’My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die and he didn’t want to live without her”
From: Port Reading, New Jersey
Married for: 67 years
How they met: Michael and Olympia’s love story has incredibly deep roots. The couple grew up only one block away from each other. The childhood sweethearts were married after World War II in 1946 and raised two children while working middle class jobs.
Their enduring love story: Michael spent four years battling colon cancer and was determined to fight the disease. As his health continued to decline, doctors admitted him to a local hospital. Then, Olympia was hospitalized at a different facility due to pneumonia. In the hospital, Olympia refused to accept food from her family and eventually passed away. Loved ones believe she wanted to pass so she could show her husband the way to heaven. The family decided not to tell their father, but believed he must have known instinctively. He passed away the following day, unaware of his wife’s death.
“She sensed my grandfather was on borrowed time, and she wanted to make sure she died before him,” Granddaughter AnnMarie McDonald told reporters. “He loved his life and wanted to keep living it. She wanted to show him the way.”
In the novel and film, The Notebook, Noah tells Allie, “The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more.” These stories reveal how human souls can be both emotionally and physically entwined. While writing this piece, we were struck by just how often this phenomenon occurs. After a little research, we learned that a 2007 study published by the University of Glasgow found that bereaved widows or widowers were 30 percent more likely to die within the first six months of their partner’s death than those of the same age who hadn’t lost a spouse. We also learned that experts believe over a period of time, a person’s heartbeat can actually affect and regulate another person’s heartbeat.
It is inspiring to think that a couple can be so deeply connected to one another that even death cannot separate them. Death is powerful, but love is so much more powerful and these touching stories are proof of it.
Were there any enduring love stories that we missed? Leave us a comment and let us know. We never tire of reading these moving examples of love.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com