Johnny Lee Peoples and Cathy Darlene Peoples "walked hand and hand" for 50 years—including out of this life. The North Carolina couple—67 and 65, respectively—died of COVID-19 within minutes of each other at a hospital in Salisbury on Sept. 2, according to a joint obituary. Their son, Shane Peoples, says they were hand in hand until the very end. He'd been hoping that the pair would pull through. But "everything just got worse" over the course of their 30-day illnesses, Peoples tells WBTV. Both his parents were put in the ICU about two weeks after they developed coronavirus symptoms, including fever and loss of taste. Two weeks later, the couple were brought into the same ICU room to say their goodbyes. "They put their hands together, the nurses gathered around and they passed within four minutes of each other," Peoples says.
It was fitting in a way. The couple, together for 50 years and married for 48, "died together holding hands and walked into Heaven holding hands," Peoples says. But he still feels like he was robbed. "The lives of Mom and Dad were stolen by a virus that many joke about on a daily basis or just straight out believe it’s a hoax of some sort," he wrote in a Facebook post, per People. "Both of them took this pandemic seriously and still got sick, still died." They were "the most loving, most caring, affectionate, and devoted parents" and "a blessing to every person that met them," he continued. "I only wish I could fill their shoes." He recommends masks, hand washing, and social distancing for all. And "hold your family close," he wrote. "Love and keep on loving." It's what his parents would've done. (Read more coronavirus stories.)