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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — A US couple who were inseparable during their 70 years of marriage died of COVID-19 while holding hands in an Ohio hospital, their family said.
Dick Meek, 89, and Shirley Meek, 87, passed away within minutes of each other on Jan. 16 at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the family said.
"They never had to go through 'until death do us part,'" said their daughter Debbie Howell. "They never had to do that because they were together and we're ever so grateful."The couple was scheduled for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 19, her dad's 90th birthday. "They were that close," said daughter Vicci Harper.
The Coschcoton, Ohio, couple met in high school and were together ever since. "You read love at first sight and you think it's not true," said the family. "Well, it was love at first sight for my dad." They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Dec. 22.
Parents to five children, 13 grandchildren, and 28 great-grandchildren they lived a full life of passion, the family said. Their adventures ranged from traveling the world to skydiving to making appearances at special events for their grandchildren, even in old age. Most importantly, they always made time to be together, having a standing date scheduled for 3 p.m. on each day to toast to each other, according to their obituary.
"They weren't your typical 88- and 90-year-old," Debbie Howell said. "They were both very, very healthy, very vibrant people with of all their faculties. They just went down so fast."
The couple tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 26 after experiencing symptoms they believed to be a cold. After several days of up-and-down symptoms, they went to an urgent care facility for a Covid test and their health went downhill from there, the family said.
Dick was admitted to Coshocton Regional Medical Center on Jan. 2 and Shirley followed two days later, said the family. Both experienced difficulties breathing.
As their condition declined, they needed to be transferred to a second hospital. At the time, there was a chance the two would be transferred to separate hospitals, but the staff helped to advocate that they would both be transferred to Riverside Methodist Hospital.
"The nurse put my mom's head on my dad's shoulder. And she walked over and she rubbed my dad's shoulder and said 'Dick, you can go now. Shirley's waiting for you,'" Howell said. "And within minutes, he was gone."The family said they feel lucky that their parents were able to pass hand in hand and thanked the hospital staff for helping them to honor their love story.
According to Dick and Shirley's obituary, a celebration of their lives will take place this summer. "COVID-19 took their lives from us, so we beg you all to be safe," said the family. — Courtesy CNN
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