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Married over 70 years, Margaret and Derek wanted to die together in the hospital


Barbara Smith

Dolors Massot - published on 03/10/22

Faithful to their vows for over 7 decades, this couple's love story has gone viral.

“I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

“Until death do us part.” This is the promise that Margaret and Derek Firth made to each other at the altar in 1950, and kept it until the end of their lives. The way they were faithful until the end, which came at a hospital in the UK, has gone viral.

They had been sweethearts since they were 14, spending most of their lives in Partington, England. But now, with both at the age of 91, Margaret had fallen ill and was admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital (in nearby Manchester), from where she was moved to Trafford General Hospital. Not long after, Derek was also admitted to Wythenshawe. Neither entered the hospital with COVID-19, but eventually both contracted the illness while in treatment, the Manchester Evening News reports.

When Margaret had come down with COVID-19, the time came when the doctors predicted that she only had a few days to live. They called one of the couple’s five children, Barbara Smith, and gave her the news, suggesting that now was the time if anyone wanted to say goodbye.

Upon hearing this news, Derek wanted to be transferred to be at his wife’s side so they could be together during their last moments, as they had been for more than 70 years. “Of course, my dad jumped at the chance to go and see her in hospital,” Barbara told the Manchester Evening News. “There’s no way he wasn’t going to go and see her.”

The family and medical team made it happen, knowing that being together would be comforting for both Derek and Margaret at that critical time. Smith told the local news outlet that her mother, upon seeing Derek, said, “Where’ve you been?”

The photo of the two of them in hospital beds, side by side and reaching out to hold hands, went viral on news outlets and social media.

Derek and Margaret, in a 2017 family photo.

The encounter gave Margaret “a boost,” according to the daughter. Derek actually ended up dying first, on January 31; his wife joined him three days later. “It was quite a sad moment, but it was really lovely that they were both there together.” Barbara believes that her father probably caught COVID at that point from his wife, she told Manchester Evening News, but “he probably wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Barbara’s photograph of that last encounter is the living image of love that gives itself entirely without regard for age or physical condition. It speaks of the treasures of humanity that last even during a pandemic. During this difficult time we’ve seen the worst emerge, but also the best, such as the example of Derek and Margaret.

Barbara expressed her gratitude to the “amazing” hospital staff who cared for her parents in the last days of their lives and facilitated family visits in the elderly couple’s last days.

ElderlyInformation about the vaccine against COVID-19Marriage
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