A HUSBAND and wife passed away from cancer within minutes of each other, after 32 years of marriage.
Relatives of Tom and Mary Forbes said it was “meant to be” after the pair died 40 minutes apart following a lifetime of happiness together.
They were laid to rest in Drimoleague today.
Special arrangements had been made for Drimoleague woman Mary to be transferred from Cork University Hospital to Bantry General Hospital so that she could be close to her beloved husband.
The pair had been married for 32 years and were much loved in the West Cork community.
Mary, who was in her sixties, had suffered with cancer in 2016 before a short spell of good health.
Sadly, her cancer returned and by Christmas of last year Tom had also received a heartbreaking diagnosis.
Mary’s brother-in-law, Richie Fitzgerald, spoke of the difficult moments leading up to their deaths.
“Mary rallied and rallied,” he said.
“She had been diagnosed with cancer before but this was a short battle. In the end, they both died in their sleep within 40 mins of one another. We’re not sure if that was meant to be, but it looked that way.”
Richie paid tribute to the couple’s twins, Niall and Paul.
“Mary and Tom were very proud of them and it was the boys who looked after them in the end,” he said.
Prior to their passing, the couple were busy making plans for the future after settling in a house next door to their son Paul and his family.
“Paul had built the house himself and they were very happy.”
Richie praised the kindness and sensitivity of the palliative care team at Bantry General Hospital.
“Mary was initially supposed to die in Marymount and preparations were being made for that, but she was taken from Cork University Hospital to Bantry so she could be close to Tom.”
Mary and Tom were described as very happy and an asset to the community.
“They were involved in darts and well-liked the community,” said Ritchie. “Mary and Tom both owned horses and had some donkeys too. They were very much into the donkey derbies.
“Tom had the land and drove JCBs while Mary enjoyed having the fowl ready for Christmas. Both sons are now also involved in farming.”
Richie said that, in the last two days of Mary and Tom’s lives, visits were confined to the family. Nonetheless, he thanked the community for their ongoing support and kindness.
“Everybody from the community came together, bringing food and offering support. The palliative care team were outstanding and we are so grateful to the palliative care team.”
The couple, who are also survived by their grandchildren Elizabeth and Christina, were buried together following a service in St Matthews Church in Drimoleague.
Family members requested donations to St Joseph’s Ward in Bantry General Hospital.
A gathering later took place at the Coachman’s Inn and was attended by family and friends in the community.