Hazel Cherry did everything within her power to ensure that she and her husband, who had been diagnosed with dementia, stayed as close as can be. However, when something unbelievable happened between them, their son quickly realized just how inseparable the two had truly become.
Over the world, more than forty-seven million people are affected by dementia. One of those people was Hazel Cherry’s husband, Leonard. This amazing story may sound like it was written by screenplay writer but the fact that these events actually happened in real life is what makes this story so amazing.
High School Sweethearts
Hazel and Leonard Cherry grew up in nearby towns in Texas; just a few minutes drive away from each other. However, neither of them knew each other growing up and it was only high school that connected these two lovebirds. Hazel and Leonard first clapped eyes on each other at high school, which is when something magical happened. A romance was born, one unlike any other. Little did they know how important they would be to each other, as their romance blossomed.
Tying The Knot
After high school, the pair continued dating. It truly was love at first sight for Leonard and Hazel, and that love would continue to grow and grow. Back in 1942 (75 years ago now), the couple tied the knot, surrounded by their friends and family. This was the beginning of a beautiful life as husband and wife, spending pretty much every waking hour that they could with each other. Unfortunately, back then, they didn’t know what would one day change their lives.
The Cherry husband and wife team didn’t always spend every waking hour together, however. During World War II, Leonard joined the Army Air Corps and the pair were separated. We can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for them, after being so close for so long. Leonard, however, was a true hero. Stationed at Carswell Base in Fort Worth, he helped train up many young pilots, providing a commendable service for his country. Hazel may have missed him, but she was proud.
A Baby Boy
In 1944, the couple were blessed with their very first child. Hazel gave birth to a beautiful boy, named David. In order to stay close together, the pair moved their lives to Fort Worth where Leonard was stationed. Once World War II came to an end, Leonard changed careers to provide for his family. He became an auto repair technician; fewer hours than working in the military. The whole family had more time to spend together, and plenty of love and laughter.
Getting Into Business
It wasn’t too long before Leonard and Hazel Cherry decided that they wanted the freedom of running their own business. They soon set up their own auto repair shop, known as Cherry-Hill. It served the locals in their town well for over three decades, proving extremely popular and successful. After over 30 years of hard work and building a flourishing business, the pair decided to shut up shop and move closer to their grandchildren. They knew how important family was.
After they closed their auto repair shop down, it was time to move to somewhere a little bit more peaceful and relaxing. Woodway was the sleepy town they moved to; located in Texas still, but with a population of less than 10,000. It was a far cry from their busy Fort Worth life, but meant that they could watch their grandchildren grow up. This was their time to relax and enjoy the rest of life with their family.
The Perfect Couple
Not only did the pair rarely spend a day apart, but their son David has said that his parents had never argued during their time together. In an interview with People, back in 2016, he said, “They never really spent a day apart unless it was for a family emergency or something. And I never heard a cross word between them. I never heard them raise their voices to each other unless they were calling across the yard. They didn’t fight!”
And The Perfect Grandparents
David also told People that his kids “just adored my parents.” He admitted that his parents had a real special relationship with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, even going to all of their school events. David continued, “When my son was growing up, dad came to all of his basketball games.” We think this just makes their family bond even more special, and so very strong. It’s quite rare to see a family so close, even as new generations are born.
It seems that everything was perfect for the Cherry family, until an unthinkable tragedy struck. Leonard was diagnosed with dementia. The disease became so bad that he had to be moved to a care facility in Waco, Texas. Hazel traveled to visit and help with care for her unwell husband. Eventually, she moved into the same building, in an independent living facility, so that the two continued to be close. After all, they’d always been inseparable, and dementia wasn’t going to change that.
Due to the fact that Leonard had to receive a proper care and peace of mind, the two moved to an assisted living home in Waco, Texas. Obviously, Hazel and Leonard hated to fact that they had to move from Woodway, a place where they had so many beautiful memories from their lifetime, close to their kids and grandsons. Hazel couldn’t live in the home with Leonard, but she moved right across the street from him, in Providence Park.
Caring For Leonard
Throughout pretty much the entirety of his illness, Hazel stayed and cared for Leonard. She gave tirelessly to her beloved husband, and ensured that they stayed inseparable. David explained further to People, “Up until the very end until, right before they died, she was with him every day and ate lunch with him in his room. There was no question that their love was always there.” To be that loved by someone is what many of us dream of. A real love story.
At this point, Leonard and Hazel are 95 and 93 years old, respectively. Suddenly, Hazel was not as strong and energized as always. According to David, his mom was getting “tired and weaker,” during the last few weeks, and on the day she died she “couldn’t get out of bed.” David said, “My daughter was talking to her when she blinked, smiled and let go.” Hazel died at Waco hospital at noon.
Living a Full Life
Hazel was often seen living life to the fullest, even driving to and from the grocery store until just a few weeks before she passed away. She went through a quite difficult and challenging time taking care of her husband that it most likely affected her physically as well as well as mentally. But she never gave up on living.
Breaking The News to Leonard
It is quite difficult to tell a person that the love of his life had passed away. Imagine the difficulty when this person also suffers from dementia. The Cherry family were dreading having to try and break the news to Leonard. However, according to his caretaker, Leonard already knew Hazel passed away. He felt it in his heart. Their connection was one of the strongest ever existed. Did Hazel death separate the couple?
At this day, something quite remarkable happened. Just a few hours after Hazel passed away, so did Leonard. A caregiver at his facility said he’d been acting restless before suddenly becoming calm and still, then taking his last breath. All happening within just a few hours of his beloved wife passing away. The news must have been double heartbreak for David and the rest of his family.
Of course, not only was the family heartbroken, but they were baffled by the whole thing too. Both Leonard and Hazel had passed away within hours of each other. These lifelong sweethearts could clearly not bear the thought of being separated. David has said he believes that it was to do with the seriously strong connection the pair had. He believes Leonard sensed that his wife had passed away, and this led to him passing away shortly after.
David doesn’t just think that his dad had sensed Hazel had passed away, however. He also felt as though divine intervention had a part to play. Passing away within hours of each other is what, David felt, the couple would have wanted. He said to People, “It’s what God wanted and I think it’s what they wanted to.” With something as inexplicable as this, perhaps David is right. Perhaps not even God wanted the Cherry couple to be separated.
Tribute to the Cherry’s
Family members began paying tribute to the beautiful couple, just hours after they passed away. Many described the pair as being “deeply in love” all the way until the very end. Others found it so poignant that Leonard and Hazel Cherry could now spend their eternity together. A memorial service, attended by their friends and family, took place close to their home. It was the perfect send-off for the perfect parents, the perfect grandparents, and the perfect couple.
Missing His Parents
David also explained to People how many people would miss his parents, including himself of course. As a couple that were loved by so many, Leonard and Hazel were leaving a big hole in people’s lives. “It’s kind of hard you know, you can’t pick up the phone and call them anymore.” he reminisced. “The more I began to think about it, I began to smile because of how much they loved each other.” What a beautiful way to look at it.
Together in Peace
While David may be heartbroken at losing both of his parents in quick succession, he is also happy for them. His father had suffered for a long time with dementia, but now his suffering was over. And the pair could be together in peace. In a CNN interview in 2016, he said, “I feel blessed that daddy’s suffering is over, and I feel blessed that Mom is with him and that she didn’t have to live alone.”
A Beautiful Life Lesson
It isn’t just David that Leonard and Hazel inspired, however. In a Fox 6 News interview in 2016, Craig (David’s son) said that the pair had taught him how to love all people. Certainly a beautiful life lesson to learn. He’s also a strong believer that the two will meet and be together in the afterlife. He told the interviewer that there was no question in his mind that his grandmother would be “waiting for him in heaven with open arms.”
Love Lasts Forever
Leonard and Hazel aren’t the first couple in history to pass like this, however. There are many reported cases that are almost identical. A similar incident happened in New Zealand in 2016, where a couple who had been together for 7 decades died hours apart. One other couple, married for 58 years, also passed holding each other’s hands. Like a real life The Notebook. Perhaps this does prove that love lasts forever – until death does us part.
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