Hospital holds spontaneous wedding so gravely ill grandfather may attend
Hudson – Danny Weaver of Hudson was raised by his grandparents, Donald and Jean Weaver, and to this day calls his 79-year-old grandfather the “greatest man and friend I have ever known.” So when Donald fell ill, Danny and fiancée Paula Hatch-O’Loughlin moved up their wedding date from Aug. 10 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to June 29 at a church in Maynard.
“My grandfather got very upset when I told him we were moving the wedding up. He didn’t want us to make a big fuss over him. But I told him plain and simple that I had to have him there,” Danny said.
On June 25, however, physicians at Emerson Hospital in Concord told the Weaver family that Donald’s condition was rapidly worsening. Seeing Danny’s distress, the hospital’s nursing staff formulated an alternative plan.
The couple immediately agreed, and returned to the hospital three hours later dressed in their wedding attire with their best man, maid of honor and dozens of relatives who had traveled from Michigan in anticipation of their wedding the following weekend.
The couple, who had dated at Maynard High School and reunited two years ago, were also supported by their five children: Kylie, 17; Jarrod, 14; flower girl Jillian, 10; and ring bearers Daniel Jr., 8, and Joey, 5.
The gift shop prepared a bouquet of flowers for the bride, a photographer was standing by, and a nurse’s iPod played background music. The engineering department set up chairs for the guests around the stone formation where the couple exchanged vows at 6:30 p.m. The nutrition department provided desserts, coffee, punch and other refreshments.
On the hospital floors above the wedding party, patients, visitors and staff members crowded around windows to look down on the touching scene below.
Most meaningful, however, was the presence of Danny’s grandfather, who had been wheeled out in his hospital bed with his nurses standing by. Donald died peacefully the following evening, with family members surrounding him.
“I’m so thankful to the staff at Emerson, who had already taken such good care of him, and all of us, for the last six months. If not for them, none of this could have happened,” Danny said.
He noted that many coincidences made it seems like their hospital wedding ceremony was meant to be. Paula’s wedding gown, which wasn’t scheduled to be ready until later in the week, was delivered that morning. Both of their wedding rings became available three days earlier than originally scheduled. Their minister happened to call that morning to check on Donald, and agreed to hastily drive from Framingham to perform the ceremony.
“Everything fell together perfectly, and my grandfather loved it. For me, it couldn’t have been more perfect any other way,” Danny said. He and Paula will repeat their vows at their originally planned ceremony on Aug. 10 for other family and friends.
Laurie Izzo, associate chief nurse at Emerson, said this was the first wedding ceremony that she can recall taking place at the hospital.
“It was so moving. There wasn’t a dry eye,” Izzo said, noting her appreciation to the Weaver family for requesting donations to Emerson in Donald’s memory in lieu of flowers. “It speaks to how much we really care about our patients, and how we’ll go to whatever lengths possible to take care of them and their families. It was one of those moments when you think, ‘I love my job.’”
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