For a couple who had spent five decades by each other’s sides, Leslie and Patricia McWaters couldn’t have been more different.

Patricia, 78, was punctual, no-nonsense and to the point, her family said. She had to be, as a nurse for 35 years in a Jackson, Mich., hospital’s operating room. Retired truck driver Leslie, 75, or LD as he was known to friends (which was pretty much anyone he met), cracked jokes, appreciated one-liners and was always fun-loving, according to the family.

But the duo was also inseparable: They raised two daughters, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren together, co-hosting every family gathering from Thanksgiving to Christmas to summer pool parties when they weren’t on the road in their ’59 Corvette.

They lived in tandem, and that’s how they died — both in the same hospital on Tuesday, Nov. 24, at 4:23 p.m., from complications caused by covid-19 — the latest of the tragic tales of longtime couples claimed by a virus that has taken at least 267,000 lives in the United States since the start of the pandemic.

“Those of us that know them, know that mom went first and said, ‘LD, it’s time to go!’” according to their obituary.

That’s because Patricia was always the boss, one of their daughters, Joanna Sisk, told The Washington Post.

At the pool parties, it was Patricia at the grill. From her pork cutlets with mushroom gravy to her homemade macaroni and cheese, if you asked the couple to your own home, she would surely bring three casserole dishes of food, enough to feed anyone who possibly showed up. When she was a nurse, she helped anyone who started working in the operating room, her daughter said.

“She would take you under her wing and teach you everything she knew,” Sisk said.

Her mother would want the couple’s story to be a lesson, Sisk believes. After months of feeling trapped amid coronavirus restrictions in Michigan, the two had let their guard down: Shortly before they fell ill in November, they visited a restaurant where people weren’t wearing masks and were walking around among tables.

The McWaters, like many others, had developed an attitude of “I want to get out and live my life, and if I get covid, so be it,” Sisk said.

“But I can tell you after they got covid, they were both extremely regretful because they didn’t really take their own words to heart that it would actually take their lives,” she said.

Shortly before he died, LD told Sisk that he wished other people understood how excruciatingly painful the symptoms of the disease caused by the virus were. He was completely different from his grinning self of the day before, when he assured his daughter that he would overcome the virus.

The month prior he was with family, excited when his 10-year-old great-grandson, Maxx, repeated one of LD’s signature one-liners after his sister stubbed her toe: “It’s too far from your heart to kill you!”

“My dad just beamed from ear to ear,” Sisk recalled. “It meant everything to him.”

Steve Shulman, a beloved Seattle grocer, passed away from covid-19 on March 18. This is the story of the doctors who treated him and the family he left behind. (The Washington Post)