|As Matt Monschein was dying in an Ohio hospital, and his wife Pat was recovering from surgery in another, their children and the community won a fight for Matt to be able to take his last breath in the same room as his wife.
The rules clearly pointed out they would have to die apart.
It was all very straight forward, that after 47 years of marriage — a bond that began in Newfoundland, when he was stationed there as a young American sailor and she was training as a Canadian nurse — Matt Monschein would just have to draw his last breath some 20 km away from his wife Pat.
Two different facilities. Too much red tape to cut through.
Fine, hospital officials in Ohio relented, perhaps they could arrange to wheel the 71-year-old former sailor, with days to live in the final stages of pancreatic cancer, into Pat’s room, where she was recovering after having both legs amputated due to diabetes.
Maybe they could spend a few hours together.
Then he would just have to go elsewhere to die, away from a woman who was the better part of his entire life.
But that didn’t seem right for the couple’s sons, Mike and Bob Monschein.
Wasn’t a human bond stronger than regulations?
Hospitals do a great job at treating disease, Mike reasoned, but are sometimes lousy at treating patients.
Their fight for love drew the attention of advocates, including a local television station in Cleveland.
“Finally, someone started to think with their heart,” said Bob.
Days ago, Matt was moved to the same hospital, and into the same room, as his wife.
They smiled. They gave each other their strength.
He was able to, for a short time, talk to her, pillow to pillow.
And even when that strength left him, they were close enough to hold hands, as they have for almost five decades.
On Tuesday, Matt died next to Pat, the way it was probably meant be.
Somehow, amid the clutter and noise in the news, a story of a loving couple managed to break through. And break the rules for the better, if only for this one time.
“Love,” said their son Bob, a 44-year-old Ohio corrections officer, “never fails.”
Matt’s funeral will be Friday. Pat’s not expected to attend.
But she was there in the beginning. When they walked hand in hand down the streets of St. John’s, N.L., when she was a young nursing student and he was a dashing American sailor.
They walked past a shop window, where there was a dress she liked — one he secretly bought and stood with outside her dorm window.
And she was there when Matt Monschein, a good husband and father, was suddenly no more.
And those are perhaps the most important parts.