A South Dakota couple, who have been married for over six decades, passed away in the same room only 20 minutes apart in a “beautiful act of God,” according to family members.
The story of 86-year-old Henry and 87-year-old Jeanette De Lange is one of a couple’s deep, abiding love for one another and a marriage lasting longer than some people get to live. Henry and Jeanette married in 1953, but this year, 63 long years later, they both passed within minutes of each other in a nursing home in Platte, South Dakota.
Henry, a Korean War veteran and hog buyer for 40 years for the John Morrell company, had been battling prostate cancer for five years, and his beloved wife, Jeanette, once a worker in the Platte Care Center, was stricken with Alzheimer’s. Both were going downhill fast, so the family brought them together to be on hand when one of them passed. No one expected them both to go so close together but everyone was heartened because, despite the inevitable, they were together to the end.
Only days before, Henry had told his son that he didn’t expect that the good Lord had many more days of life left for him, and as the couple began to lose their individual battles, the family was there to stand vigil. By 5:10 on July 31, Jeanette breathed her last.
“We read Psalm 103. We didn’t quite get done. She passed away very, very peacefully. Incredibly peacefully,” Lee told KSFY TV news.
As the family took stock, Lee’s brother whispered into his father’s ear that mom was gone.
“My brother Keith said to my dad — said, ‘mom’s gone to heaven. You don’t have to fight anymore, you can go too if you want.’ He was laying in bed. He, for the first time, opened his eyes, looked intently over where mom was. Closed his eyes back down. Laid back down, died about 5 or 10 minutes after that,” Lee said.
The family hadn’t even begun to mourn when, at 5:30, their father joined the love of his life in death.
“We’re calling it a beautiful act of God’s providential love and mercy. You don’t pray for it because it seems mean, but you couldn’t ask for anything more beautiful,” Lee said
But that wasn’t the end of what the family felt was the hand of God visiting their grief-stricken family.
Just as Henry passed away, the battery-powered clock on the nursing home wall ticked to 5:30 but then stopped moving altogether. It was a coincidence that the family cannot explain.
They decided it was an “Amazing sign from God that [it] was the right time.”
“Mom and dad were Christians. They loved Christ. They wanted so badly to show their love for Christ that they loved one another. It’s natural what they do. For them to be able to be a witness in life, also in death… That’s cool. Really cool,” Lee said of his departed parents.
Along with this amazing story, Henry and Jeanette left behind five children and nine grandchildren to carry on their legacy.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.