Metro Detroit couple married for almost 60 years end up in hospital

Posted at 4:54 PM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 16:54:22-04

A couple married for almost 60 years ended up in the hospital at the same time for different issues.

The staff at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn made a point to try to keep Hazel and Joe Zavadil in the same room as Joe passed away.

"Just got to make sure my mom is a-okay, well taken care of," said daughter Lisa Zavadil.

She said that was her father's dying wish.

Joe was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in June.

"He was actually sick a lot earlier, he just didn't tell anybody because he was always worried about my mom."

Hazel and Joe got married in 1959..

"Always together," Lisa said. "If my father was somewhere, my mom wasn't too far away."

More than ten years ago, the family started noticing early signs of dementia with Hazel.

"She is just getting older and older, people kind of forget a little bit."

Lisa said Joe never cared about himself; he was always worried about Hazel.

He ended up on the oncology floor of Beaumont hospital in Dearborn late July. That same time, Hazel fell and broke her hip.

"We were down in emergency with my mom and my brother was up on the 10th floor with my dad," Lisa said. "We just have to get them together. This has to be."

The nurses put Hazel in a room across from Joe.

Lisa brought in a video monitor so Joe could keep an eye on his wife.

Clinical nurse manager Tracy Wittkopp said, "She had brought baby monitors to put in each of their rooms so Joe can watch Hazel. Hazel would try to get out of bed and Joe would say 'Hazel,' and she would look all over, trying to figure out where he was."

When Joe's health was slipping, they brought Hazel in his room.

On August 5, Joe passed away holding the love of his life's hand.

"It's tough. That was hard," Lisa said. "When my dad passed, my mom sort of stared up and smiled. People say you see loved ones when they pass when you're with them. Even if that isn't true, I'm going to hold on to that it is true."

Although it was an unusual request, Lisa was grateful the nurses made it happen.

Wittkopp added, "It's a beautiful thing we got to do."

Hazel is home recovering, but because of her dementia, she doesn't realize Joe is gone.

Lisa hopes people will be inspired by her parent's love.

"Just have to be there, that's what family is all about."