Elderly couple dies hours apart holding hands - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Elderly couple dies hours apart holding hands

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A one-of-a kind love story has captured the hearts of people worldwide.

An elderly couple from New York died just hours apart and family members chronicled it by taking pictures of the couple, holding hands until the very end.

Sunday, their grandson, who lives in San Diego, shared their story and images with CBS News 8.

Ed Hale was 83-years-old. His wife, Floreen, 82. The image of them holding hands at their death beds has gone viral.

Loved ones say to understand the way they died, you have to first know about how they lived.  

"They did absolutely everything together," said Keenan Hirsh, Ed and Floreen's grandson.

Ed and Floreen Hale's love story began in 1952, when they locked eyes at a county dance in New York.

It was Floreen's first night out since she was gravely injured in a car crash that killed her first husband.

"Shortly thereafter, he asked to marry her...her parents said no because she was so fragile, she didn't want to get her heart broken. He said, I don't care...I'll carry her until I die," Hirsh said.

For the next 60 plus years Ed did just that. They visited the doctor together and would take nightly drives. Ed loved sports. His wife liked all things red.

They brought each other the same joy they shared with others.

"They got happiness out of making other people smile and enjoy themselves," Hirsh said.

Hirsh lives in San Diego with his mom, one of three children they had. After hearing his grandparents had gotten sick he flew back East but didn't make it in time.

Instead, he has pictures which tell a love story that has the makings of a Hollywood movie.

"It's the next The Notebook," Hirsh said.

On January 31, Ed went to the hospital with a leg injury. His condition worsened and he was transported an hour away to Rochester where doctors expected him to die.

"He woke up at 4 a.m. one morning after he had asked everyone to leave and called my mom and said, I need to be with Floreen," Hirsh said.

Ed made that request without knowing his beloved had been hospitalized just days after him with congestive heart failure.

Getting them together took some work but the two were reunited and placed side by side in a hospice room located in their hometown.  

"He'd roll over every 30 minutes and give her a tap and say, 'are you still there?'"

Ed waited until his wife passed before he took his last breath 36 hours later.

The two were holding hands.

It's an image that has spread worldwide along with a message of love and dedication. The perfect ending to a life well-lived.

"If they could have written it up, this would be it," Hirsh said.

Ed and Floreen were buried side-by-side the day before Valentine's Day -- making this love story complete.

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