It was a poignant end to a 58-year love story. Judith Savage, 79, died peacefully at Sevenoaks Hospital in Paraparaumu earlier this month after a long illness.
Husband Trevor, 82, helped plan her funeral from his Wellington Hospital bed before quietly slipping away in his son's arms just three days later.
"His tired heart knew there was no more need to struggle. He wanted freedom to be with Mum," son Philip said.
When his father first became ill with cancer, Philip told his wife, Coral, that if his mother died first, he could not see his father lasting a month.
"I did not expect three days, but it was that kind of relationship. Through her long decline, they were still inseparable."
His father, suffering from bladder cancer, told Philip a couple of months ago he had no regrets, except that it seemed inevitable he would die before his wife, and he wished it could be otherwise.
"He wished his heart would take him before the cancer. Dad was a punter, exchanged the horses for the sharemarket - so, Dad, you got both legs at the goal, by a nose."
Their marriage, and family, were everything to them, he said. His parents' deaths were a heartbreaking end to their love story.
Their caskets stood side by side at Kapiti Coast Funeral Home this week, as the service started to the strains of Jim Reeves' I Love You Because.
Their other son, Richard, sent a message from Australia: "If there has to be an ending, for them this is the perfect one."
Trevor's cousin, Roy Savage, described Trevor falling head over heels when he first met Judy in 1954, as he started a long career with Griffin's in Lower Hutt.
"He could not stop talking about this wonderful girl he had met, this perfect woman.
"Trevor maintained he had the perfect wife. She was placid and retiring, with a fantastic smile that lit up her face. They had similar fussy natures, were very tidy individuals. Their garden was immaculate, they both cut the edges of their lawn with scissors.
"Judy was as devoted to Trevor as he was to her. This was unwavering for 58 years."
As Judy's health deteriorated, Trevor, even after he could not care for her alone, continued to ensure her weakness for icecream was satisfied when he took her out on regular drives.
"When Trevor's health started to deteriorate, his big concern was what would happen to Judy if he died," Roy Savage said. "He had equal concern about what would happen to him if she died. Both problems have been solved.
"We should not treat their almost simultaneous deaths as some sort of Romeo and Juliet-type of tragedy. They would not want us to feel life had dealt them and us a cruel blow, rather let us see them as two people who were inseparable in life, and are now united in death."
Mrs Savage died on Monday, May 13, her husband on the Thursday.
The couple are survived by Philip and Coral, Richard and wife Tania, and granddaughter Lauren.
- © Fairfax NZ News