Family say farewall to mom with Alzheimer’s, then daughter looks at dad and realises heartbreaking truth

Love is the most powerful feeling there is. It connects the soul; it connects our lives. Love can make us move mountains, cross rivers, go to the ends of the earth – all for the one person who shares our soul.

Couples who have been married for decades know this feeling well.

92-year-old Bob and 90-year-old Ruth Kretschmer recently celebrated 71 years of marriage. They met at an ice rink, shortly before World War II.

Those who loved Bob knew him to be a spreader of joy; a man with copious amounts of energy and enthusiasm. Of the two, Ruth was considered to be more serious, but every bit as loving.

During World War II, Bob was called up to the army. He served his country with great pride, managing to survive the horrors he faced, and came home to marry his sweetheart, Ruth.

In 1955, the couple settled at a house Bob had built for them in Illinois. They kept animals in the yard, including a horse, goat, raccoon, rooster and Irish setters – the couple were united in their love of animals.

Ruth and Bob would go on to have three children; daughters Roberta and Ruthann, and son David. Over the years, their family would continue to grow, and eventually Bob and Ruth had 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Their children described their relationship as a love story filled with “devotion, love and courage.”

Unfortunately, in their latter years both Bob and Ruth suffered from health problems. Ruth developed Alzheimer’s disease, whilst Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to his bones and his liver.

Bob knew he would lose the fight against his illness, but he felt he needed to survive for as long as he could, for the sake of his wife.

“I’m going downhill but I have to hang on because I can’t let Ruth go to a home,” Bob is reported as having told a close friend.

The couple remained in the house they had lived in for over 60 years, having hospital beds placed just a few metres apart. Their three children did their best to care for their beloved parents, getting help as and when it was needed from hired care workers.

Then, just before 10:00 AM, one Friday, Ruth stopped breathing. When she died, the family believe it was as though Bob could sense it.

One of the nurses held Bob’s hand, crying. He asked her what was wrong.

“Ruth is gone,” she told him.

Then, soon after, his own hand became cold.

Just 20 minutes after Ruth’s passing, a hospice nurse had arrived at the home to pronounce her dead. Her daughter Ruthann remembers the heartbreaking moment.

According to Ruthann: “She said, ‘She’s gone,’ and she stood up, turned around, and said, ‘Oh my God, he’s gone.’ ”

It was as if he was released from his duty. As soon as he heard mom declared at 10:25, dad was declared at 10:26. I believe to the bottom of my soul he hung on for her.”

While the whole family mourned their loved ones, they knew deep down this was the way Bob and Ruth would have chosen to go. The couple were in love for so many years that they couldn’t bear the idea of living apart. They clung to each other, up until death.

Rest in peace, Bob and Ruth. May your love continue to flourish through your family line. Your spirit certainly lives on through your children. 

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