Wedding Bells at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital — Fulfilling a Grandmother’s Wish

Groom placing ring on partner's finger

It’s not every day that a hospital gets to experience a wedding. But on a hot July day at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, if you were to step into our Antonio and Clara Battistella and Family Multi-Faith Room, you would have seen a young couple standing at the front of the room reciting their vows before the large windows overlooking the Spiritual Care courtyard.

It started less than 24 hours before when Leonor, a palliative care patient, made a rather unusual request — she wanted to be present for her granddaughter Sydnye’s wedding while she still had the strength. With a united goal, a team comprised of a small group of her family and care providers set forth on the mission to grant her request.

“It all happened pretty quickly,” reflected Patricia, the Patient Care Coordinator from our Sorbara Integrated Stroke Unit. “When they asked us, we were excited to help however we could.  We were going to make sure it happened, no matter what. Once we had agreed on that, everyone pulled together to make it as special as possible.” The family’s initial expectations of the couple reciting vows at Leonor’s bedside were almost immediately surpassed. The Multi-Faith room in our Spiritual Care Centre was quickly selected as the ideal spot for the ceremony with a small team of staff decorating the space to making it fit for the occasion. Even the flowers stood as a symbol of the team’s commitment. When the unit’s Registered Dietitian Tasha learned of the wedding that morning, she graciously offered flowers from her own garden.

While the room was being prepared and the arrangements made, Leonor’s family helped make sure she was ready by helping her with her clothes and doing her make-up and vigilant staff helped her manage her pain. “It all depended on how Leonor was feeling,” tells Lauren, one of our social workers. “The plan was to take her to the Spiritual Care room as long as she was comfortable enough, but we made sure we had contingencies in place just in case. If she couldn’t have made the trip downstairs, we were ready and able to hold the ceremony in her room.”

Upon entering the prepared room, the family was surprised to see the effort the team had put into decorating the space asking them how many times they’d done this before. Patricia and Lauren humbly informed them this was the first time such an ask had been made at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital. “These kinds of things are few and far between,” stated Lauren, making it that much more of a special day for the team, honoured to be a part of the occasion.

Granddaughter standing and hugging grandmother sitting in wheelchairAs the wedding began, music filled the room with the bride walking in accompanied by her mother at her side. Joining her husband-to-be at the front of the room, her grandmother sat just behind them in the first seat of the front row witnessing it all, while her care team stood at the back of the room with teary eyes. After vows had been exchanged and the officiant pronounced them husband and wife, the first thing Sydnye did was walk over to hug her grandmother. “Having my abuelita at my wedding was non-negotiable,” says Sydnye. We felt that asking for this small miracle would be our best chance to make sure she was able to see it. We were so grateful for everything the staff did to help us create this memory.”

It was a touching moment for all involved and an incredible story for years to come. A new hospital experiencing its first wedding and taking advantage of a space dedicated to caring for people’s spiritual well-being. And an incredible team truly going above and beyond.