At 16, Vera knew she was in love. Wilf Russell, 18, had stolen her heart.
The young couple got engaged just before he was deployed to North Africa and Italy with the Royal Air Force during World War II. Shortly after his return, Wilf and Vera were married and never spent a single night apart.
That is, until 93-year-old Wilf was diagnosed with dementia and, needing more care, he went to live at a nursing home.
Recenty, Vera went to visit Wilf, but her husband of 71 years didn’t recognize her
“She was broken-hearted,” said Vera’s granddaughter Stephanie Welch.
With her health deteriorating after visiting Wilf, 91-year-old Vera was soon admitted to the hospital.
When Welch went to visit her grandmother at the hospital, Vera opened her eyes and asked where Wilf was.
Three days later, Wilf died at 6:50 a.m. Four minutes later Vera was pronounced dead without ever being told of her husband’s death.
Although they were three miles apart and didn’t know they were both near the end, Vera and Wilf’s family don’t believe the four minute gap in time of death was a coincidence. It’s possible Vera was waiting for her husband to go, perhaps so she could swiftly follow him and they could be together again.
“The last thing [my grandmother] said to me was, ‘We’re a right pair, aren’t we?'” said Welch.
Their 71 years together was very family oriented. Vera and Wilf made sure their three sons, five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren always felt loved.
“Vera very much spoke for them as a couple and Wilf went along with whatever she said,” said Welch. “Maybe that’s why they lasted so long!”
Welch recounted funny quirks that made her grandparents so special. “I remember they would always spend months and months trying to repair things rather than waste money on ever buying anything new.”
Science actually plays a part in this touching phenomenon of elderly couples passing away so close to each other. It’s called the widowhood effect or broken heart syndrome. The stress of losing a person causes mental anguish and grief that can affect the heart. This is why it’s common for elderly couples who have been together for a long time to pass away close to each other. Others might believe it is simply by the hand of God.
Whether you believe in science or a higher power, Vera and Wilf’s love story continues to inspire people around the world.
“Aww, they are so lucky,” said Lolesio Mafi Katalina, in a comment on Facebook. “Hope same happens to me and hubby. God please take us together at the same time. I couldn’t stand to stay behind if I left him behind he would be heartbroken.”
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