COSHOCTON COUNTY, Ohio -- The increasing death toll from COVID-19 has devastated many families on a personal level. One instance illustrates that like no other.
An Ohio couple that had recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary both passed away minutes apart, leaving behind seven decades of memories, five children, 13 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
Dick and Shirley Meek celebrated their anniversary on Dec. 22. It was then when they innocuously told their children they were feeling a little under the weather.
"They said to all us kids, 'we think we're getting colds,'" said Kelly Meek. But suddenly, things got bad and it was evident this was no mere cold.
On Jan. 8, they both tested positive for COVID-19. When things started to worsen for both of them, the family asked for them to be together for their final moments. Hospital staff found a room for two beds and the necessary equipment.
Dick and Shirley died in each other's arms on Jan. 16. They were due to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 19.
"They were holding hands and Mom's head was on Dad's shoulder," said Debbie Meek Howell.
Shirley was 87, Dick recently turned 90. The family said they enjoyed all the fruits of life, from skydiving to ziplining and traveling the world. Each day at 3 p.m., they found time to have a date.
"My parents got the blessing of walking together through the gates of heaven into eternity without never having to face 'until death do us part.' How many people can say that?," Debbie said.