As John Wilson, 92, lay dying of cancer in a hospital, he feared he may miss the chance to say goodbye to his beloved wife of 69 years. That was until a ward sister stepped in to arrange for the couple to be brought together.
John and his wife, Marjorie, 88, were able to hold hands one last time. The moment was immortalized in a photograph for the surviving family to cherish for years to come.
John received a diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer in March, reports the Daily Mail, at the same time as his wife was being treated for pneumonia on a separate ward at Burton Queen’s Hospital in Staffordshire, England. Upon learning that Marjorie was to be discharged back to her nursing home, John grew anxious.
The couple, from Ashbourne in Derbyshire, were taken under the wing of care of Emma Barker, who instructed her team to move their beds together. Once they were moved side by side, John reached out and clutched his wife’s hand tightly.
Nurse Barker, speaking to the NHS, marveled at John and Marjorie’s longevous marriage and wondered how it must have felt for John to know that he would soon be separated from his wife. “The whole reason you become a nurse is to care for people and to have moments like this,” she reflected.
The couple sat together for several minutes, according to BBC, during which time nurse Barker took a photograph for their family. It was their last photo together, as John died peacefully at home on June 15 in his son’s arms.
The couple’s son, Kurt Wilson, quit his job as a lorry driver to care for both of his parents in their ailing health.
“They were married for 69 years and were very much in love,” Kurt, 62, told the Daily Mail. “My mom has dementia and had been in a care home for some time, and I cared for my dad at home.
“I was able to speak to my dad as he came home for his final days,” Kurt continued. “He was a very private man but he told me how much it meant to him to see [Marjorie] one last time. I know he was really glad to see her and share that beautiful moment.”
In addition, Kurt penned a moving handwritten letter to Queen’s Hospital staffers on the occasion of his father’s passing to thank them for facilitating his parents’ final goodbye.
“Thank you all so very much for the loving care and attention you gave both my parents,” Kurt’s letter read. “A special thank you to Sister Emma who had the foresight to take a photo of Mum and Dad together for the last time.”
Describing the photograph of John and Marjorie as “very emotional and powerful,” nurse Barker explained that gifting the photo to Kurt and receiving his heartfelt letter in return had a huge impact on both herself and her team.
“I like to treat all patients as if they were my family,” she told the NHS, “and I know that I would be extremely humbled knowing someone had done that for a relative of mine.”
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