Bill and Jill Calderone succumbed to the novel coronavirus in May. They were married since 1944.
When Bill and Jill Calderone moved into a Rhode Island care facility in March, they were more fit than they had been in years. "My good lord, they looked terrific. My dad, they shaved him and cut his hair, and they both just looked wonderful," their son Ron Calderone told PEOPLE. Just when the Calderone family thought the 100-year-olds were in their best shape, the deadly coronavirus hit the nation and subsequently the nursing home where the elderly couple was staying.
I’m not going to cry. I’m not crying. 😭😭😭❤️ https://t.co/d2ucnRXTPS— Vervain (@Ineedlike5shots) June 12, 2020
A few weeks after they had moved in, COVID-19 had affected nursing home and Bill was the first to contract the disease. This left the family worried as the novel coronavirus has been said to be especially fatal in the elderly. Unfortunately, the disease didn't even spare Jill, who had Alzheimer's, as she shared a room with her beloved husband. "We finally got to see them over FaceTime and it was awful," said their 72-year-old son recalling the video conversation he had with them after the facility laid down strict social distancing restrictions."
Thinking about each other probably got them through the ordeal.🕊️♥️💜💚💙💛🧡🌼— DeidreCohoe/2leggeddoe (@CohoeDeidre) June 13, 2020
"I never thought I'd see my parents so debilitated, my father could barely answer me on the phone. I think all they wanted to do was go home," shared Ron. Sadly for the family, the elderly pair did not survive the ordeal. Bill, who was a Marine veteran and fought in both World War II and the Korean War, succumbed to complications of the virus on May 6. Just two weeks later, Jill, who was a former real estate agent and an avid gardener, passed away too on May 20. Although she did not have her family by her side, Ron says that a nurse held her hand as she took her last breath.
"There's a despair you feel that comes from not being able to see these two people that I've lived with for 72 years," expressed a heartbroken Ron. "They've been my entire life," he continued. Ever since their passing, Ron has been going through his parents' belongings in the hopes of learning more about his parents who are no more with him. One of the habits that surprised him was that his father had been holding onto coasters from 1958 onwards. Apparently, Bill cataloged their serial number, as well as their warranties and place of purchase. "My dad was precise with everything," said Ron laughing.
Ron is the second child of the late couple and was also their primary caretaker. He lived right next door in Cranston for more than 35 years. The pair's elder son was Richard who currently resides in Hawaii. The couple was very much in love throughout their eight-decade journey which began when the two met in high school in Rhode Island. After falling head over heels in love with one another, they tied the knot in 1944 and Bill enlisted in the military just a few years after that. Bill worked in the Marines for at least 22 years, until his retirement in 1958.
The late veteran was someone who loved doing things his way and that's the reason why he used to ride his own lawnmower and cut grass even at the age of 99. "I used to rail at him, 'Dad, what are you doing out here? You could well afford somebody to cut your grass!'" Ron recalls telling his father. But now he understands how fun it was to ride one's own lawnmower. "Well, I'm riding his lawnmower and I get it now. It's kinda fun." Ron wasn't able to spend much time with his mother towards the end of her days, but he did get to share a touching moment with her just three months prior.
Special that they died of the same thing at extreme old age.— Some Person (@evileconboy) June 13, 2020
Ron had shown Jill a trophy, the two had won together during a mother-daughter dance in 1962. Although, it was a struggle for Jill to recall everything due to her Alzheimer's she immediately remembered the statue. "She smiled when she saw it," he recalls. "I said, 'Ma, do you remember we did this?' and she said, 'Oh, yeah. We danced!'" he recalled. Now, Ron is warning people who are taking the virus and the restrictions very lightly. "For all those people who think that this virus is nothing more than the flu, come with me to the cemetery. Two people died within two weeks of each other, and this is the result. Go visit a cemetery and see all the funerals. I could introduce them to my mom and dad," he explained.