A Valentine’s story of love and living from the Hospice Georgian Triangle’s Campbell House.
“Good morning, Mrs!” Trevor said to his bride Kathy, the morning after they wed, as he would for the next few days.
That was how long Trevor had left to live at Hospice Georgian Triangle’s Campbell House.
It wasn’t that he didn’t know death was imminent.
It was that with his waning strength he determinedly wanted to do one thing he wished he had done much earlier: marry the love of his life, Kathy. Their wedding was a testimony not only of their love for one another, love that can survive through any illness. It was a tribute to the amazing staff at the hospice, who throughout Trevor’s illness supported not only him through pain and illness, but his wife Kathy through grief and bereavement counselling.
As Deborah, a Patient and Family Support Worker put it, it not only lightened the mood for the happy couple, but for the staff. “For those hours there was a shift I think – thinking about what was to come was suspended – and everyone was ‘in the moment’ sharing the obvious happiness and contentment,” the wedding couple were experiencing in “knowing that a decades’ long desire had been accomplished.”
Instead of gifts of china or cutlery being given to the bride and groom, the happy couple gave the staff and their family gifts by their example of prioritizing love and life over death.
As Deborah put it, their marriage “was a gift that they were able to give each other and their family. It was an example of commitment, dedication, tenacity, co-operation and resilience.” It was a crie de coeur “to never give up on a wish.”
It showed that “laughing and loving and being happy is a part of coming together – and of letting go.” And it demonstrated that “there is a peace that comes with the realization of a goal.”
So how did it happen? Everyone at Hospice Georgian Triangle chipped in.
“It wasn’t an ‘are you crazy?’ response to the idea that a couple could marry in a hospice during a provincial lockdown in a global pandemic with only days to pull off the event,” says Deborah. “It was proof that love can and does endure, that memories become what we have, that happiness can co-exist with sadness.”
And, so, the preparations got underway.
Melissa, a staff member, came in on her day off and did Kathy’s hair. Myke, a PSW, shaved Trevor and helped him dress in his finest shirt and tie. Local florist Abigail from Petals in Thyme provided beautiful flowers. Staff rolled his bed outside, “where,” Myke says, “a small gathering of family members joined them in the garden for an emotional moment of love and commitment in a completely unique setting.”
Meanwhile, other family watched from as far away as Trinidad over Zoom.
Helen Rusell, volunteer and food services lead, made party sandwiches. The Living Wish Foundation provided funds to pay for the wedding cake, flowers, and a photographer. Sharon, the spiritual leader of Hospice Georgian Triangle performed the ceremony. “It was such a sweet, magical, tender, joyful day,” she says.
In the end, is there a better way to celebrate love on Valentine’s Day than to remember the example set by Trevor and Kathy? Mahatma Gandhi couldn’t have described it better when he wrote: “Where there is love there is life.”
Hospice Georgian Triangle provides compassionate care in the home and at Campbell House for individuals and families dealing with life-limiting illness living in the communities of Collingwood, Clearview Township, The Town of Blue Mountains, and Wasaga Beach.
Hospice palliative care and community programs come at no cost to the user and focuses on the physical and emotional needs of both the patient and family, enhancing quality of life.
Hospice Georgian Triangle Foundation needs donations from the southern Georgian Bay community to fund more than 50 per cent of hospice palliative care and to provide the level of programming, especially grief and bereavement counselling, child support groups and pain and symptom management programs.
For more information or to donate please visit www.hgtfoundation.com or call 705-444-2555.