"We knew it was important for the entire Siciliano family"
CHICAGO (WLS) -- When COVID-19 landed a Chicago area couple who had been married 76 years in the hospital, nurses and doctors stepped in to make sure they could wage their fight side-by-side.
Unfortunately, it was a fight that only one of them would win. But their family is forever grateful for the healthcare workers who kept their parents together.
"My parents have never been separated in 76 years except for World War II," Gail Grazian said.
Carmen and Mary Siciliano were soulmates for nearly eight decades. Carmen, a body builder and loyal husband, liked to show off his gymnastics skills, but had a soft side, too.
"He would fill his pockets with change and he would do a handstand so the change would fall out and the kids could run all the change and gather it up," his daughter recalled.
It was Mary who first got sick with the coronavirus. She was sent to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. The family knew they had to try and keep the couple together.
"We knew it was important for the entire Siciliano family and we knew it would benefit Mr. and Mrs. Siciliano also," said Renee Scheier, of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital.
So when Carmen, who was legally blind, was hospitalized, he joined his wife.
"When he was wheeled into the room, he must have sensed my mother being there and he said, 'Hi Mary.' And she said, 'Hi honey, what are you doing here?'" Grazian said.
For six days, Carmen and Mary shared a room, battling the virus, like they had always battled life's challenges: together.
"He did not want to let go, because he want to protect my mother," Grazian said.
Their love story greatly affected the Good Samaritan hospital staff, and the staff left a lasting impact on the Sicilianos.
"These are the people that are going to make the world a better place," daughter Joyce Siciliano Andringa said. "These are the people, when we say heroes, we're not saying that lightly. When we say angels on earth, we're not saying that lightly."
The night before Carmen passed away, the music of Nat King Cole filled their room, and the 98-year-old World War II veteran sang to his wife of 76 years.
Mary is still recovering at a skilled nursing facility.