When Danny Weaver and his fiancée, Paula Hatch- O’Loughlin, set a wedding date of Aug. 10 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, they never imagined that instead they would say their vows on June 25 at Emerson Hospital in Concord.
But that was before the groom’s grandfather, Donald Weaver, who raised Danny and whom Danny considers the “greatest man and friend I have ever known,” fell ill.
And when his grandfather’s condition rapidly deteriorated on June 25, the couple and the nursing staff at Emerson Hospital came together to organize a wedding in fewer than three hours.
“He was given a month to live,” explained Nancy Seskes, a nurse manager at Emerson Hospital. “That month shortly became a week. It was becoming a day, hours.”
Earlier that day, the Weaver family had been told by physicians that Donald Weaver’s condition was worsening.
The wedding had already been rescheduled for June 29, but Danny Weaver was told that his grandfather might not live that long.
“All of a sudden, he crashed on Monday,” said Danny Weaver, who lives in Hudson. “They told us on Tuesday afternoon if he makes it till Wednesday, he’ll be lucky.”
Danny Weaver asked the hospital whether something could be arranged for the next day.
Seskes and the other nurses discussed the arrangements with Weaver, but as Seskes left the room, her doubts about Donald Weaver’s chances of survival grew.
“I can’t play God. I can’t tell you your grandfather will still be there tomorrow,” she told him.
And so when Danny Weaver asked whether something could be arranged for that evening, the hospital administration and various departments came together to give Weaver and Hatch-O’Loughlin an unforgettable wedding.
A series of coincidences had already paved the way for the accelerated wedding planning: Hatch-O’Loughlin’s dress was ready a week early, the rings were back from being sized three days early, and the minister who called that morning to check on Donald Weaver agreed to drive from Framingham to officiate at the ceremony.
Flowers were ordered from the hospital’s gift shop, desserts and fruit punch arrived courtesy of the nutrition department, and Emerson’s photographer was summoned to document the event.
“They had the huge courtyard all blocked off,” Danny Weaver said, describing the setting. “They had 50 chairs lined up outside, they had music going, they picked songs for when she walked down the aisle. They literally wheeled my grandfather outside — poles, IVs, they brought it all outside.”
The hospital took care of everything, asking only that they be able to put pictures on the Emerson’s website.
“We feel that it’s just part of taking care of the patient and family,” Seskes said.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Donald Weaver loved the ceremony.
Danny Weaver said that even the next morning, his grandfather couldn’t stop talking about the beauty of the wedding.
Donald Weaver died peacefully on June 26. He was 79.
“It was like someone else was watching upstairs and everything fell together perfect,” Danny Weaver said. “You couldn’t have asked for anything better. I don’t think my actual wedding in August will be more important to me or better than this one.”
Shandana Mufti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.