The Notebook is a movie that is pretty sentimental. Its emotionally resonating story follows a couple who fights through the social restrictions of the era to remain together through thick and thin. If you haven’t caught the movie–and this is a spoiler—it ends with the older versions of each of the two characters falling asleep together in a ward and passing away peacefully at the same time. This is such a tidy way to wrap up the movie, but apparently it does happen in real life, as Joyce and Frank Dodd’s lengthy relationship proves. The couple died together this month at Darent Valley Hospital after staff pushed their beds together. They simply wanted to hold hands one more time.
Joyce and Frank Dodd had been married for 77 years at the time of their deaths and had only reached that anniversary a few days prior to their deaths. In their time together, the couple had five children, and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great grandchildren. Speaking to Kent Online, the couple’s daughter said that the staff at the hospital had given the couple the option to push their beds together after both fell ill. Before that, Frank had been downstairs in the hospital and Joyce had been upstairs.
The story of Frank and Joyce Dodd was certainly not as tumultuous as the Nicholas Sparks story. The two had met at the age of 14 and had gotten married at 19. She worked as a waitress. He was a sawyer at a lumber yard. They lived a long life, filled with children and simple joys, like baking. Reports indicate that the couple were active for a long time, and their daughter had even caught Frank trying to paint a drain pipe on a ladder at the age of 94.
Frank was dealing with heart failure when he entered Darent Valley Hospital five weeks before his death, and his wife fell ill shortly after. But the staff did everything to ensure that Frank and Joyce were able to spend their final moments together. Their daughter, Angela Bonell said this about the time they were able to spend together in the end:
They brought dad upstairs so they could lay and hold hands. The staff on Redwood ward went above and beyond anything we could have hoped for, it was really special.
Honestly, this story to me is even more of a tearjerker than The Notebook. It’s not carefully worded fiction. It’s a real-life couple who got to spend their final moments together after having to spend some time apart. The end of the road is a lonely journey, but as The Notebook ultimately taught us, it’s better if you can traverse there with someone you care about.