By Sue Wambolt, Contributing Writer
Region – Many couples renew their vows several decades after they first took them. For Phil and Susan Sheridan, there was a compelling reason not to wait years later but instead to say “I do” once again just a mere few hours after the first time they officially became husband and wife.
On the afternoon of Sept. 14 at St. John’s Church in Worcester the former Susan Slavinskas and Phil Sheridan exchanged vows before an audience of family and friends.
After the ceremony, the couple and their wedding party drove to Knollwood Nursing Center where Father John Slavinskas (Susan’s godson) repeated the ceremony he had just finished. This time, though, there was an important member of the family present – Susan’s 97-year-old mother, Isabel Slavinskas.
Originally, Susan and Phil had planned to wed at the Knollwood Nursing Center, which is part of the Briarwood Senior Living Community in Worcester, where Isabel has been living for the past three and a half years. But, because it was to be a Catholic ceremony, the wedding needed to take place in a Catholic church. Given her health situation, this meant that Isabel would not be able to attend the ceremony.
Knowing that Susan would not want to get married without her mother in attendance, Joann Dattis, activities director at Knollwood, came up with a plan – a second ceremony at the nursing center.
After gaining approval from Administrator Patricia Martel, plans for the first-ever wedding at Knollwood Nursing Center began taking shape.
For the staff and residents at Knollwood, Susan is a fixture, playing the piano during the ice cream socials and lending a helping hand during painting classes.
“She is involved in our facility in many ways,” Dattis said, “socially engaging with almost all of our residents, getting to know them as well as their families.”
News of the wedding created excitement for Knollwood residents. Many purchased new dresses and counted down the days in anticipation of the big event.
On Sept. 14, Isabel joined fellow residents and staff in the main dining hall of Knollwood as violinist Miranda Waltz-Peters set the mood. Then, as they had done just hours earlier, Susan, 61, who is from Worcester and Phil, 65, who is from Norton, once again exchanged wedding vows.
In the dining hall decorated with the help of Boston interior decorator Roger Lussier, 45 guests enjoyed cake and cupcakes made by Food Service Director Angel Rodriguez with the assistance of Staff Coordinator Jennifer Havens.
As a gift to the bride and groom, Dattis and Sylvia Sullivan painted a tree on which the guests each left a fingerprint “leaf.” Painting instructor Amanda Thompson painted the background.
“The ceremony provided memories of love and caring and a community coming together at a nursing center,” Susan said. “It was a perfect day and I can’t think of anything that would make it better.”