An Illinois couple married for 69 years died just 40 minutes apart while holding hands in their hospital room.
Teresa Vatkin, 89, died Saturday at 12:10 a.m alongside her husband, 91-year-old Isaac Vatkin, who died around 12:50 a.m. at Highland Park Hospital in Skokie, the Associated Press reported.
Relatives say the couple were holding hands when Teresa passed away. The couple’s daughter, Clara Gesklin, said her father stopped breathing once their hands separated.
“My father’s chest went flat. I would think no more than 20 minutes. They were both gone,” Gesklin told WGN.
“The moment he felt we removed her hand from his, he was able to say ‘OK, I’m done protecting her. I can go and rest as well,’ ” their son Daniel Vatkin told the Chicago Sun Times. “The ultimate in chivalry — so he could go to heaven and open the door for her.”
Leo Vatkin, the couple’s son, said his father “never wanted to do anything apart” from his wife.
Their “love for each other was so strong they simply could not live without each other,” Gesklin said during a joint funeral held Monday for the couple.