BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - It’s a love story that may remind you of a Hollywood movie, but it's real, and it’s the life of a Bakersfield, Calif., man and woman whose love for each other was on display until the day they died.
“It’s absolutely beautiful, and the story is beautiful,” said Melissa Sloan of Bakersfield.
It’s a love story about as real as they come.
“All Don wanted was to be with his beautiful wife. He adored my grandmother, loved her to the end of the Earth,” she said.
But to know how this love story ends, you have to go to the beginning when fate brought Don and Maxine Simpson together.
Don was born in North Dakota and studied Civil Engineering, a career path that would eventually land him in Bakersfield and closer to the future love of his life, Maxine.
The couple met in a bowling alley and married a few years later -- a simple side to their story and life that was anything but.
The pair was involved with Rotary, YMCA and the Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
Don became one of the founders and the longest running members of the Bakersfield Racket Club, a place where people say he just belonged.
Don and Maxine traveled the world together, adopted two boys along the way and eventually settled down.
They were married for almost 62 years and everything was done together.
“They left this world together,” said Sloan.
That’s what makes this story even more unbelievable.
Two weeks ago, Don was at home when he fell, breaking his hip.
The family took Don to the hospital, but his health was quickly declining. Around the same time, the cancer his wife was battling for years also progressed.
“I told my sister on the phone, we got one shot to get them together,” she said.
The family knew they couldn’t keep them apart. So, they were moved to a spare bedroom in the family’s home.
“We kept them together, and had their beds side-by-side,” she said.
Don, with a smile on his face, saw all the pictures taken by the family.
“Gram woke up and saw him, and held hands and they knew that they were next to each other,” said Sloan.
But what no one knew is how they would leave this world.
“I knew in my heart this is what’s supposed to happen. Grandma and Grandpa are supposed to be together, and Grandma and Grandpa are going to die together,” she said.
And that’s what happened.
“I could hear on the monitor, she took her last breath and I came to check. She had passed,” said Sloan.
Maxine was gone.
“I walked them out with her body, walked back in to check on Grandpa and he quit breathing as soon as her body left the room. He left with her, and they passed four hours apart from each other,” she said.
The man who married the love of his life more than 60 years ago, was only hours behind in death.
“It’s just amazing. It really is amazing. It’s a true love story,” said Sloan.
An ending to a life, and love, that was always, together.
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