Baptist Memorial Hospital – North Mississippi employees created an unforgettable wedding and reception for a couple facing dire circumstances.
Despite her terminal cervical cancer diagnosis, Annie Turner Nicholson and Charles Nicholson planned to marry after nearly three decades together.
“We’ve been together 28 years and she wanted my name,” Mr. Nicholson said.
During Mrs. Nicholson’s time on Baptist’s fifth floor, Mr. Nicholson told staff members that he wanted to make arrangements for their wedding, but couldn’t proceed until he knew when Mrs. Nicholson would be discharged.
“We told him there wasn’t a for-sure date of discharge,” said Brittney Goolsby, RN, head nurse on Baptist’s fifth floor. “We looked at everything, and it could change from day-to-day with her.”
As word of their wishes spread on April 10, many members of the Baptist staff expressed a desire to help the couple plan their special day. During her hospital stay, the pair made an impression on many — from nurses to patient-care associates to social workers.
“They’re just really sweet, humble people,” Goolsby said. “She never imagined anyone would want to do something like this for her. It made us want to do it for them that much more.”
When the Nicholsons agreed to be married in the hospital, the staff started planning the occasion for the next day.
The hospital gift shop provided ribbon and tulle for a veil, and staff members purchased a delicate shawl for the bride to wear and arranged for a bouquet and a boutonniere for the bride and groom. They even provided her “something blue,” a special fabric hair tie worn around her wrist.
“Life happened and they never had the chance to get married,” Goolsby said. “They just wanted to make that commitment to each other. It was special because we had all gotten to know her so well.”
The bride’s Baptist caregivers served as her attendants, helping her get ready for the ceremony. After being contacted by the hospital, an employee at the Yalobusha County Courthouse volunteered to drive the marriage license to Oxford after she finished work for the day. She arrived with the legal document around 7 p.m.
With the last piece in place, the ceremony could begin.
On an iPod and speakers borrowed from the hospital’s gift shop, wedding music played as the bride made her entrance. The hallway from her room served as her aisle, and waiting on her in the fifth floor-lobby were her groom, their son and the hospital chaplain Joe Young, who performed the ceremony.
Even though the conditions for the lovely wedding were hardly those a bride dreams of, the couple still experienced an abundance of marital bliss.
“We are still talking about it how nice it was, just the way (the staff) put their hearts into it,” said Mr. Nicholson. “It was just uplifting, especially for her.”
After exchanging vows, the couple made the traditional wedding toast with raspberry lemonade and enjoyed a sweet creation made especially for them by the hospital’s cafeteria staff — a strawberry cake, Mrs. Nicholson’s favorite flavor. Baptist gave the couple a wooden cross as a wedding present.
The staff also bought the bride a necklace with a charm marked with the letter “C” for Charles, a keepsake by which she can remember her wedding planners and new friends.
On April 14, Mrs. Nicholson moved to a transitional healthcare facility in Water Valley, where her new husband remains with his bride each day.
“I’ll never be able to be grateful enough,” Mr. Nicholson said. “They were just wonderful people at the hospital.”
Courtesy Emery Newsom, Baptist Memorial Marketing