In Leonard and Hazel’s incredible relationship, the statement ‘love conquers all’ couldn’t be more accurate. The high school sweethearts will make you believe in true, unconditional love.
Before The Unthinkable Happened
Leonard and Hazel met back in high school and had an instant connection. From the outset, their friends and family had a feeling that their relationship would go the distance. However, in later years, Leonard was diagnosed with dementia and Hazel took it upon herself to keep their marriage alive and make sure their love did not diminish.
With the two of them born and raised in Texas, they lived close by to one another despite Texas being the biggest the second largest state. Growing up, they did not know each other, which was slightly unusual, seeing as they were both local. Nevertheless, this was all about to change when they were preparing to attend high school. When they first met, they had an immediate connection, something drew them together and what started out as a friendship was inevitable to blossom.
It Was Only A Matter Of Time
Needless to say, their friendship turned into a deep love for one another and soon after meeting and falling for each other, they knew that this was the person they wanted to live their entire life with. Everyone around them could see their intense admiration and love, and finally, in 1942, the couple decided to take the next step and get married. In their ceremony, Leonard and Hazel pledged to spend their lives together, written in some beautiful vows.
After becoming husband and wife, Leonard and Hazel took the opportunity to spend every moment they could together. They loved being around each other, shared the same hobbies and were each other’s best friend. The couple displayed the kind of old school romance and love which is so rare to be found in relationships today. Leonard and Hazel became inseparable and valued every minute that they spent together. From this, it was clear that they would live an incredibly happy life together.
Life On The Line
Part of the reason the couple savored every minute they could spend together was because they knew there were times that Army duty would force them away from each other. Like many other young men in the 1940’s, Leonard joined the Army Air Corps during World War Two to fight for his country. He was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base and was admired by many other young officers for his dedication and commitment to his country.
Separated By Force
Leonard’s time in the Army turned out to be incredibly successful, and he took every opportunity which came his way. Leonard was primarily a bomber pilot but also took the time to train young pilots looking to take up a position in his squadron. While her husband was deployed with the army, Hazel waited patiently for her love back at home. She was longing for her Leonard again, and the feeling was mutual as Leonard was awaiting his reunion with his beloved wife.
After putting his life on the line in the Army and working with young, aspiring pilots, Leonard began to long for children of his own that could carry on his legacy. As it turned out, Hazel was thinking the same, and they knew they wanted to become a family from that exact moment. The love between the two of them would be manifested in their children, so having a family was the next natural step. In 1944, their first child David was born, and they felt completely fulfilled, but there was more to come.
The new family of three made the decision to relocate for another twist in their new chapter. They called Fort Worth, Texas their new home and moving to the city; they realized they had much more opportunities at their fingertips and had to take advantage of this. Leonard and Hazel had many discussions surrounding their financial stability and came up with a plan to start a family business. Although a new business was on the horizon, a more important decision was figuring out exactly what industry they wanted to work in.
Blood, Sweat And Tears
Following numerous discussions about their skills and where they would be utilized best, Leonard and Hazel finally agreed to open an auto repair shop. From Leonard’s time in the Army Air Corps, he was taught extensively about automobile operations among other high skilled jobs. From this, the Cherry Hill auto shop was born with Leonard and Hazel taking charge of all the operations and business decisions. Upon opening, their gamble paid off, and the auto shop became hugely successful.
The years flew by, and their son David grew up incredibly quickly and moved on with his life, having a family of his own. Leonard and Hazel’s Cherry Hill had closed down, and their only son had moved out leading them to consider a move away from Fort Worth. They knew they wanted something smaller and quiet to enjoy the outdoors so decided on Woodway, Texas. Woodway seemed to be much closer to their son David and their grandchildren which was perfect for the elderly couple.
Everything They Knew
With Leonard and Hazel aging, their priorities in their life had changed and rather than focusing on their business and making money, they were at a time where love and family meant the most to them, just like it did when they met in high school and at the beginning of their marriage. It was a nice time for the couple; they were able to fall in love all over again as well as spend quality time with their grandchildren.
Around The Clock Care
The couple’s love and admiration for one another meant that they rarely had any arguments. This was recognized by their son David, who observed “I never heard them raise their voices to each other unless they were calling across the yard. They didn’t fight!” Perhaps it was the couple’s ability to put things into perspective which stopped them from arguing over small, unnecessary things. It all seemed perfect for Leonard and Hazel until something happened which would change everything.
Above And Beyond
Due to their dedication to their family, it was no surprise that Leonard and Hazel were incredibly hands on grandparents. They made an effort to attend their grandchildren’s basketball games, recitals at school and take them out for treats when their parents were not around. Their love and support for their descendants were mutual. It was clear that their grandchildren appreciated all that they did for them and gave Leonard and Hazel a lot of love in return.
Life Was Good Until…
This special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren was noted by David who stated: “The kids just adored my parents, they had such a special relationship, they were so close and came to all of their school events.” He continued, “When my son was growing up, dad came to all of his basketball games,” it was evident that he was proud of the love within the family. However, this perfect image was not able to persist, and some tragic news hit the Cherry family.
They Just Couldn’t Believe It
Following numerous doctors visits, Leonard was given a diagnosis of dementia, hitting the Cherry family hard. The person who immediately picked up the family’s spirits was Hazel who knew she must do everything in her power to help her husband through his sickness. Hazel agreed to “till death do us part” at their wedding, and that is exactly what she intended to maintain. They knew the road ahead would not be easy, but the plan was to stay together as a family unit.
Dementia is explained to be a severe mental disability which interferes with everyday life. The disease is very broad, but the symptoms of memory loss, emotional issues, speech difficulty and the reduction of a person’s ability to perform daily activities is enough to become debilitating for both the sufferer and their family. Although the initial diagnosis is extremely tough to come to terms with, dementia can be gradual, and Hazel knew that she must hold on to her husband for as long as she could.
In 2015, it was reported that around 46 million people suffered from the disease around the world. Dementia is often a result of old age, and the majority of its patients are between the ages of 75 to 84, making it one of the most common diseases of the elderly. With the life expectancy increasing in developed countries, dementia has become more common. Although there is currently no cure, many dementia sufferers are given round the clock care which assists them in coping with the disease.
Change Was Due
When Leonard’s dementia started to become evident to those around him, everyone was aware that many changes had to be made to their lives without aggravating or advancing Leonard’s symptoms. Hazel found it heartbreaking to watch her loving husband battle a mental disability in their home which was so perfect at one point. Nonetheless, she knew she must keep it together, and in their small town of Woodway, she found comfort in her neighbors and close family.
A Woman With A Plan
Like many other dementia sufferers, Leonard’s disease became all too consuming for his family members to deal with, leading them to head for help from professionals. Leonard was then transferred to a care home in the city of Waco where he would be given 24-hour assistance from nurses who were familiar with the disease. Despite the fact it was incredibly hard for Hazel to let Leonard go, she knew she was doing the right thing, and she promised to see him everyday.
Hazel, of course, kept to her word and visited her husband every day at his new home. After spending so many hours with him, she decided to use her time effectively and learn as much about her husband’s condition as she possibly could. After many discussions with Leonard’s nurses and the directors of the care facility, Hazel soon realized her husband’s state was going to deteriorate further, rather than improve. From that moment, she knew she had to take matters into her own hands.
Not Giving Up
After plenty of discussions with the care home and the directors, Hazel’s struggle was evident, and they decided to sympathize with her. Hazel was then given permission to move into Leonard’s building but in separate, independent living quarters. This was a huge step for the couple as not only could she see her husband everyday for as long as she wanted, giving him love and reassurance, but she could also watch over the nurses who were assisting Leonard.
Hazel’s dedication to look after Leonard was noted by their son David, who said “She was with him every day and ate lunch with him in his room. There was no question that their love was always there.” Hazel would often run errands for her husband, getting him anything he needed, as well as looking after herself in her own living quarters. Nevertheless, she was never gone for too long and made Leonard her first priority.
Life Goes On
Hazel was urged by the rest of her family to start doing things for herself and not be confined by Leonard’s dementia. Hazel, however, wouldn’t listen to anyone and wanted to keep to her word of making Leonard her priority. Hazel’s selflessness led her focusing on her husband’s health, rather than her own even though he had 24-hour care. His dementia seemed to be all too consuming, and he went down hill fast, making life harder for both Leonard and Hazel.
As a result of Hazel dedicating her life to her husband, she had to appear strong on the outside, but her pent up feelings were quite different. Hazel still went to the grocery store and made sure to take care of everything for her husband outside of his care home. It was physically and emotionally draining for Hazel, but she never asked for help because that was not the person she was. She could only keep up this act of being strong for so long.
Tired And Weak
With Leonard aged 95 and Hazel 93, the family worried for both of them in their old age but particularly Leonard with his dementia. Hazel always maintained that she was in perfect health to her family which is why they were speechless when they saw their mother’s health deteriorating. Her son David, in particular, noticed physical changes in his mother stating “She started getting tired and weaker.” Hazel was not doing well, and everyone became panicked that she wouldn’t hold on for much longer.
No One Saw It Coming
Suddenly, Hazel passed away in October 2016, leaving her family shocked and devastated. Son, David explained “She started getting tired and weaker, and on the day she passed, she couldn’t get out of bed,” One day, David recalled the shocking moment she went saying, “My daughter was talking to her when she blinked, smiled and let go.” Hazel was always the one who kept the family strong, and everyone had huge admiration for her. They didn’t know how to deal with the news.
The Cherry family knew that they must tell Leonard who was already in bad condition, they didn’t know what it would do to him. After much deliberation of how to break the news to Leonard of how his beloved wife passed away suddenly, David plucked up the courage to call Leonard’s care home. When David got in touch, before he could bring himself to say the news, the care home spoke to David and explained that Leonard seemed uneasy and was feeling restless. But there was more.
All At Once
The nurses told David that Leonard had passed. When David then told them about Hazel, they confirmed that Leonard had died just hours after his wife. Leonard was never told the news, but he seemed to have an intuition that his life partner was no longer here. The nurses explained that after Leonard had become restless, he was suddenly calm and closed his eyes and passed on. David observed “I’m not sure how it worked, but he knew what happened. He had a connection… He could feel it.”
Leonard and Hazel were life partners and couldn’t imagine living in a world where they weren’t together. The fact that they died at the same time speaks volumes about their intense connection; they had been together for so many years that they knew something wasn’t right. Although Leonard was suffering from dementia and his health deterioration was expected, Hazel’s turn for the worse was completely unexpected. It’s as if they knew one of them was going and they couldn’t be parted, so left together.
Their whole family paid tribute to the loving couple, asserting what an inspiration they were to everyone. Leonard and Hazel displayed a love that is incredibly rare to find today with David confirming “They had so much love for each other,” He continued “No question, they are both up above, smiling… They’ll always be together.” The Cherry family were able to find comfort in the fact Leonard, and Hazel passed away together, never leaving each other’s side.
Love Like No Other
The power of love is evident here, and it was unbelievable that although they were apart at the time, they were still together in spirit and passed away at the same time. Being together for so many years meant that they had a connection which no one could understand. The person who saw their love the most was their son David. He admitted he didn’t find it hard to believe that Leonard knew Hazel had passed so finally let go himself.
Losing Both Parents
It is never easy to lose a parent, especially within a couple of hours of each other and David struggled with that. He was desperately trying to cope with the loss of both parents, and his family were doing everything they could to support him during the difficult time. However, there was on thing that gave David some comfort and closure. Knowing how much his parents loved each other, he was happy they left the world together, without mourning for their lover.
David Was Done
David knew that a greater presence was involved and suggested: “It’s what God wanted, and I think it’s what they wanted too.” In his emotional speech at his parent’s memorial service, he described how hard life would be without them but also said that “The more I began to think about it, I began to smile because of how much they loved each other.” His comments were understood by everyone as they knew how much love there was between Leonard and Hazel.
Letting It All Out
Losing your parents is one of the toughest things to go through, but David also claimed that it was a relief because it was incredibly hard to see his amazing father suffering from dementia. What also helped him was the fact that his mother didn’t have to watch her husband die either. David said, “I feel blessed that Daddy’s suffering is over, and I feel blessed that Mom is with him and that she didn’t have to live alone.”
Leonard and Hazel’s grandson Craig spoke of how much they taught him growing up, shaping him into the compassionate and kind person he is today. He thought that their simultaneous passing was a testament to their love and strong bond. Craig spoke of them saying, “There is no question in my mind that my grandmother was waiting for him in heaven with open arms,” Leonard and Hazel may have passed, but there is no doubt they are looking down on their family, holding hands and smiling.