Husband's final act was to grab wife of 53 years' hand as they died of Covid-19

A devoted husband used his final burst of energy to grab his wife of 53 years’ hand before both died of coronavirus, a nurse has revealed.

Curtis and Betty Tarpley died of Covid-19 side by side on June 18 after nurses moved her bed next to his so they could say one last goodbye. Intensive care nurse Blake Thorne, who helped the couple in their final moments at hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, said his colleague told Curtis, 79, that he was next to Betty, 80, prompting him to take hold of her hand.

Thorne said: ‘His eyes opened and his eyebrows went up. He knew what we said. He knew that she was there. I honestly think they were so incapacitated that all they could do was talk with their souls or something, a special unspoken language.

‘They obviously knew each other well enough that they could communicate without words.’ Betty died 20 minutes after Curtis grabbed her hand, and Curtis died a further 25 minutes after that.

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The couple’s son Tim Tarpley, 52, has been left bereft by their passing, but says knowing they were together at the end has brought him comfort.

He told WISN how his parents first met at high school in Illinois, before bumping into each other again in California as adults, and falling in love.

They married in 1967, had Tim and his sister Tricia, and were completely devoted to one another until Betty was diagnosed with Covid-19 early last month, and admitted to hospital. Curtis also tested positive, and was brought to the same facility two days later.

Before Betty lost consciousness, she was able to call Tim and Tricia to let them know she was ready to go. Tim recalled: ‘I just screamed “No!”

‘I was like, “I’ve got too much, too many other things to do in this life that I want to show you, and I’m not ready.”‘

Curtis appeared to be coping with coronavirus better than his wife, but his condition suddenly worsened shortly after Tim and Tricia passed on his wife’s dying message.

The pair were both admitted to hospital, with their children unable to see them during their dying days because of social distancing measures.

Tim said his parents had been in isolation in March to try and protect themselves from Covid-19, and that knowing his parents had spent so much quality time together in their final months ‘gave him another level of peace.’

He and his sister plan to hold a memorial service for their parents when social distancing regulations are relaxed.

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