Inseparable elderly Toronto couple dies hours apart, kilometres away
An elderly couple from Toronto, who spent nearly every moment together, died within hours of each other in a story that their family says is a true tale of eternal love.
Badru and Kulsum Nanji’s children say they were lucky to find love again. Both having been widowed at a young age, Kulsum was pregnant with her second child when her husband died.
She and her two young children fled Uganda in the early 1970s. On a separate flight in the same direction, Badru was on the same path. They met in Canada as refugees and fell in love. In 1978, they got married.
Their daughter Yasmin says even at 82 years old and 91 years old, they lived for each other. “It was love. They took care of each other, they ate together, they prayed together,” she said. “They would never go out without each other.”
Much of their time was spent in the living room of their Thorncliff apartment where they raised their children, each sitting on their own sofa facing the other.
Five years ago the couple was given life-changing news, when Kulsum was diagnosed with leukemia and given only months to live. She made it until age 82.
“She would still take care of my dad, even in hospital. She would call me and ask, ‘Did he eat today? How is he doing?'” Yasmin recalled.
Last December, Kulsum was admitted to the hospital for the last time.
“Her health was declining. My brother asked my uncle and aunt to pick dad up and go to the hospital,” Yasmin said.
The family wanted to ensure Kulsum’s 91-year-old husband was able to be with his wife in her final moments — but Badru refused to go.
“Dad was adamant. He said, ‘I’m not leaving, mom is here. We just said our prayers now. She’s in the room sleeping. I’m not leaving her,'” Yasmin said.
Badru didn’t suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, according to his children.
To humour Badru, family members checked the empty room but still couldn’t convince him to leave the couple’s living room and accompany them to the hospital.
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Less than six kilometres away, Kulsum was on her death bed surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She died in her son Karim’s arms.
“I didn’t want to call my dad,” Karim says. “I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”
He drove over to his parent’s apartment, getting ready for the tough conversation ahead.
“It’s going to be a difficult thing to tell my dad, that’s number one,” he said. “And number two, how are we going to take care of him? Because they were so attached and this was a big concern for me.”
Karim slowly opened the door and says it felt as if time stopped. He saw his father, sitting on the floor, leaning on the love seat where his wife would sit across from him every day. He had passed away peacefully.
Karim and his sister Yasmin believe that though the couple wasn’t together physically, they were together spiritually in their final moments.
The couple had a joint funeral and were buried together.
“They were each other’s lives. They lived for each other. They didn’t want to leave each other, even in death,” Yasmin says.
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