Couple battled COVID-19, cancer and chemo and survived them all!
They said the vows back in 1974 - for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.
But Robert and Janice Beecham made each other one more solemn promise.
“Long life and happiness,” Janice said. “We are going to love happily ever after.”
Their 46th wedding anniversary was approaching when Robert began feeling sick.
“Shortness of breath, loss of appetite, my senses - smelling, taste - I mean, totally gone,” he said. “And then the cough.”
What started as a dry cough turned into severe congestion.
“And it was like I was drowning,” he said.
Eventually, Robert and Janice’s son told him it was time to go to the hospital.
Robert and Janice Beecham have been married 46 years.
“And I didn’t put up an argument,” Robert said. “I didn’t tell my wife, I didn’t tell any of my family, but when I left home, I prayed and made peace with God and told him I was ready to come home,” he recalled.
Janice knew it was serious, too.
“I was standing in the door watching them as they left," she said. "All I could do was whisper a prayer. ‘Lord do what you do best.' That’s all I could say."
Robert is a two-time stroke survivor, so the Beechams know Dallas’ Parkland Hospital better than they’d like.
The night their son brought Robert in, Parkland doctors admitted him, tested him for the coronavirus and took him to a room on the hospital’s sixth floor.
“They came back a day or so later in full gear – the gowns, the masks and said, ‘Mr. Beecham, we’re taking you to the third floor,’” he recalled. “And I knew then why I was there.”
The third floor houses Parkland’s Tactical Care Unit, the first unit the hospital opened to care specifically for patients fighting COVID-19.
“[The third floor] was different than anything I’d seen,” he said. “The doctors and nurses are rushing around like ants to get to all the patients. But they were tending to me so well, I felt like I was the only patient in there," Robert said.
But it was also ominous.
“You hear the sounds of grown people moaning and coughing,” he said. “It’s just devastating to hear all that.”
Robert had all the cards stacked against him: he is 65, he has congestive heart failure, he has suffered two strokes, and he is Black.
“I’d tell him every night when we’d talk to come back home to me,” Janice said. “And he came home.”
That solemn vow of long life and happiness hasn’t been broken yet.