Tommy and Virginia Stevens, both 91, were, in the eyes of their family and friends, a legendary couple. The Tennessee high school sweethearts proved earlier this month that their love truly endured until “death do us part.” Tommy passed away on September 8 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Virginia, who was also hospitalized, was moved from her room next door to his room so that they could hold hands until the end. She passed away just nine days later.
Though the couple were hospitalized for separate issues, the hospital was moved to compassion by their situation, and moved Virginia first to the room next to her husband and then into his room in the palliative care unit. Their daughter Karen Kreager told the VUMC Voice that they “both lit up” when they were reunited, and that to the family, the most important thing of all was that they were together.
“He was awake when she came in,” Kreager said, speaking of her dad. “His eyes were open. He wasn’t communicating a lot — just in small whispers. But he knew that she was there and that she was going to be right beside him. They [didn’t stop] holding hands the whole time.”
Before her passing, Virginia was able to tell the VUMC Voice how much it meant to her that the hospital had reunited the couple. “You know, it helped me a lot,” Virginia she said. “It just gave me peace that I wouldn’t have to worry about him. He was going to be with me.”
Tommy, who had Alzheimer’s, was hospitalized for pneumonia and sepsis and was moved to palliative care when treatment options were exhausted. The same day he was hospitalized, Virginia suffered a fall which resulted in six broken ribs, a spinal injury and a hip fracture. After seeing her husband peacefully off to heaven one day before their 69th wedding anniversary, she followed and was reunited with him on September 17th, just nine days later.