A devoted elderly couple who were separated by illness were transferred to the same hospital – so they could hold hands during their last moments together.
Ted and Mary Williams fell in love as teenagers and have been inseperable since tying the knot in 1941.
But when they both fell ill earlier this month Mary, 87, was admitted to Southmead Hospital in Bristol with pneumonia and Ted, 90, to the city’s Frenchay Hospital with heart problems.
From her sickbed, Mary wrote a love letter to her husband asking him to come and see her.
So caring hospital staff devised a plan to ensure the pair spent their final hours together – and transferred Ted across the city onto Mary’s ward at Southmead.
She passed away just three hours after Ted arrived on March 10th, holding hands in adjacent beds.
After her death he quickly ”faded away” and died three weeks later of heart failure.
Yesterday (Weds) their son Tony, 67, thanked the hospitals for their ”compassion” and paid tribute to his parents, whose funeral will be held today (Thurs).
The printer from Keynsham, Bristol, said: ”I’m so grateful to the NHS staff for having the compassion and thoughtfulness to transfer my dad to be with my mum, without us even asking for it.
”They knew that mum would die and dad got to hold her hand for the last few hours of her life.
”Then dad said, ‘My time has come, and I want to be with your mum. And in two and a half days he was gone.’
”He faded away and he passed away peacefully in his sleep just as mum had done.
”My mum passed away happy, knowing that her beloved husband was with her and holding her hand, and then my dad was able to pass on, feeling his life was complete.”
The couple met at church when Mary was only 13 and Ted 15.
Even at their young age Mary knew she would always want to be with Ted, who was a Catholic, so she converted to the religion so they could marry.
Their love blossomed and they tied the knot in 1941, eventually moving into the home they would share for more than 60 years in Southmead, Bristol.
The couple were stalwarts of the community, known to everyone as ”Aunty Mary and Uncle Ted”, and they had a great love of music.
Ted, an engineer, and Mary, a shopworker, shared a long and healthy life until a year ago when Mary began to suffer from Alzheimer’s.
But proud Ted refused to have a carer, choosing to support her himself.
Tony said: ”In the very last year we tried to get help for him but he just refused it. He said, ‘It’s my job. I love her and I want to be with her.’ It was a fantastic love.”
But when Mary took ill with pneumonia at the end of February she was admitted to Southmead Hospital, where Tony took Ted to visit her every day.
On March 3rd Ted was also admitted to hospital with a heart complaint, but Mary’s Alzheimer’s meant she couldn’t understand why he was no longer visiting.
She wrote a love letter to her husband that ended: ”Ted, I’d love to see you. Why haven’t you come to see me, my darling?”
With Mary’s life ebbing away, Southmead staff contacted Frenchay and arranged for the transfer of Ted to the neighbouring bed in Mary’s ward.
Tony added: ”Mum and dad had the happiest life you can imagine, and they couldn’t have asked for more than this when their time came to pass on.
”It made my parents happy in their final hours.
”It gave them the perfect end to their life-long love story. You really can’t ask for much more than that.”
The joint funeral for Ted and Mary, who had two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, will be held at Canford Crematorium in Bristol.