‘She wasn’t supposed to go without him’: Idaho Falls couple married 68 years dies 8 days apart
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IDAHO FALLS — Delmar and Myrna Anderson celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on June 27. They spent nearly seven decades together and, although Delmar nearly died at Myrna’s funeral earlier this month, he ended up joining her just a few days after her death.
“She wasn’t supposed to go without him. He told me that when she died, and he decided he wasn’t going to stay here without her,” Gerrolyn Anderson, one of the couple’s daughters, tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Delmar and Myrna had been residing at Fairwinds, a senior living center, for the past three years. Delmar’s health had recently taken a turn for the worse, and he was admitted to the hospital a few days before his wife died.
Anderson says she was working in the garden Sept. 2 and called her mother at Fairwinds.
“She told me she wasn’t feeling very well and was still in bed. That’s not like her. She gets up, and she stays up,” Anderson recalls. “I hung up, called my brother and told him to get over there. When I got there, I knew she was gone.”
Anderson had to go to the hospital and tell her father that his sweetheart had died. He had dementia, was hard of hearing and it took him several minutes to comprehend what had happened.
“When it hit, he was gasping for air. He started crying and saying, ‘It wasn’t supposed to happen this way,'” Anderson says.
Two days before Myrna’s funeral, Delmar was released from the hospital. Anderson took him to her house – the same home where she, her sister and two brothers were raised.
Myrna’s funeral services were scheduled for Sept. 7, and that morning, Delmar wouldn’t get out of bed. Anderson was finally able to get him moving and into his wheelchair. They drove to the Ammon Stake Center, and the funeral began.
“I positioned him in the front so he could see the casket,” Anderson says. “As it went on, I saw him close his eyes, and he looked like he was sleeping. When the pallbearers took the casket out, I was going to wheel him out, but he wasn’t moving. I stopped the music and said to everyone in the chapel, ‘He’s gone.'”
Medical personnel in the congregation came to the front of the chapel and were unable to find a pulse, Anderson says. They laid Delmar on the bench, Anderson’s brothers gave him a Latter-day Saint priesthood blessing, and he coughed.
“I’ll be honest – it was kind of shocking and awkward. I had to finish my mother’s funeral, and my dad was lying there on the bench. I wasn’t even thinking and told everyone to come back for lunch because we had a lot of food,” Anderson says with a laugh.
Delmar was taken back to Anderson’s house. The next day, he barely spoke. But around 4:30 a.m. the following day, Anderson says, “the craziest thing happened.”
“I could hear him in the other room talking to all these people who have passed away. He was saying, ‘Oh, they sent you down here. I can see you, but I can’t feel you. Give me a hug,'” she says. “He had dementia and has not recognized his grandchildren but during that time, they came in to see him. He knew them and was giving direct counsel to some very specific situations that I didn’t know he knew about.”
The clear, almost nonstop communication continued for 18 hours, according to Anderson. He quieted down around 10:30 p.m., and the next day, Delmar passed away.
“It was eight days after Mom’s death,” Anderson says. “It is such a blessing that they went this way because that’s just who they were. They were together since they were teenagers and have been together their entire lives.”
The Andersons are now preparing for Delmar’s funeral, which will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, in the same church building where they honored their mother.
Delmar and Myrna met at the old Ammon High School and were married June 27, 1951, in the Idaho Falls Temple. They were often referred to as the ‘dynamic duo’ and loved people.
“They were service-oriented. When they would go down to eat (at Fairwinds), she would walk around to all the tables and say hello,” Anderson says. “All of the residents talked about how friendly they were.”
The Andersons leave behind their four children, 12 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandson, and an incredible love story through life and death.
“I should be torn up, but I’m not,” Anderson says. “I feel like it was the right thing and the normal path for them to take.”