LOVING husband George Pitman gently held his dying wife’s hand as she took her last breath and whispered to her: “Close your eyes, I’m coming with you”.
And just hours after Pat passed away, her devoted husband of 55 years kept his word when he also slipped away in hospital.
As the couple’s close-knit family prepare to say their final goodbyes at a heartbreaking joint funeral tomorrow, they take comfort in the fact that George and Pat will be together in death just as they were throughout their lives.
Their daughter Jacqueline Gofton said: “They spent their whole lives inseparable, so this is what they would have wanted.
“If they had been given a choice, this is the one they would have chosen.
“Dad died of a broken heart.”
Pat, 77, was admitted to the University Hospital of North Tees on November 13 after medics detected a shadow on her lung.
Along with the rest of the family, George, also 77, kept a bedside vigil for the next week but gradually took ill himself and was sent for tests.
Despite being told he was critically ill, George - affectionately known as Rocky - refused to go to James Cook hospital as he wanted to be by his wife’s side.
Nurses prepared a bed alongside Pat where George could be treated, but as he was being wheeled in at around 1pm on November 20, it was clear his wife was in her final moments.
Just 21 hours later, at 10am the following morning, retired HGV driver George died after having an aneurysm in his chest and his heart stopped.
Poignantly, a few hours before he passed away George had asked the nurse treating him what her name was.
Jacqueline added: “She said it was Patricia, but she got Pat. Dad said that was a lovely name, and he seemed relaxed after that as though it was a comfort to him.
“It was as if Mam had been sent to nurse him.”
The couple had five children, 55-year old Jacqueline as well as Angela Gould, 53, Deborah Willis, 51, 50-year-old Paul and Gillian Cormack, 47, along with 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
They met on a blind date in the Queen’s Rink, and married on Valentine’s Day 1959.
Angela, a parent practitioner for Hartlepool Borough Council, said; “After they met, dad had to go to Hong Kong for his national service.
“He was from West Bromwich, but he was based at Catterick and came to Hartlepool with his friend on a blind date.
“When he came back from Hong Kong after two years, he came straight back for her. He’d written to her every week and sent presents.
“They really were inseparable, they were never apart. It seems fitting that they even died together.”
The couple have been brought back to the home they shared in Lancaster Road for 45 years, and will take their final journey at noon tomorrow in the same hearse to their funeral at St Thomas More Church in Easington Road.
Jacqueline added: “It is just unbelievable how this has happened.
“Normally there is one funeral to arrange, but everything is double. Even when we registered the deaths, we had to go through everything twice.
“In circumstances like this I always though you could ask your mam what you should do, or your dad if it was the other way around.
“But we have lost them both. It’s as if they knew though. When we came back to their house the next day, Dad had put a box on the bed with all of the birth certificates in and all of the legal documents.
“It’s all a bit surreal, we keep expecting to wake up from it all and I still don’t think it has actually sunk in yet.
“They were young at heart, they adored their grandkids and spent three nights a week down at the bowls club having a couple of drinks and playing bingo.
“They had such a large circle of friends, and they will be sorely missed by us all.”