by Jen Fuhrman-Kestler, AAHPM e-Marketing Manager

“FYI…we’re getting hitched tomorrow.”

This was the text I received from my fiancé as I sat in the opening session of a membership and marketing conference. Although he made me chuckle with his deliberate flippant wording, I quickly understood the significance of what was about to happen within the next 24 hours.

My now mother-in-law, Barb, has been in poor health for the past few years, and has gone through a myriad of medical treatments for her many different serious illnesses. After a stay in the ICU, she decided to move to hospice.

Being an employee of AAHPM, and advocate of palliative care, I was pleased with her decision to focus on quality of life and relieved that her uncomfortable symptoms would be managed.

The team at Shell Point Hospice has helped align a care plan with my mother-in-law’s goals. She is a strong and independent woman, never afraid to voice her opinion. Her first request was a view of the water. Her room on the fourth floor overlooks a lagoon filled with manatees, dolphins and tarpon. After being in the ICU and limited to a few spoonfuls of ice chips, nothing sounded better to her than a strawberry milkshake. Removing all the limitations and restrictions and allowing her to enjoy her remaining days has made Barb very happy, but the greatest gift Shell Point was able to give her was perhaps the most unconventional.

When Barb’s prognosis meant that she would not be able to make our late July wedding, Shawn and I decided to bring the wedding to her. After my conference, I got the first flight to Fort Myers. The next morning, we stopped by the Publix to pick up some flowers and a small cake. When the woman at the bakery asked if the cake was for a special occasion, and we answered “our wedding,” she looked as if she didn’t believe us. We arrived at the hospice and spoke with the chaplain, Dewey. He quickly got to know Shawn and me, and within a half an hour, we had a ceremony. Michelle, the social worker, took photos, and three of Barb’s closest friends joined her to witness our promise to spend the rest of our lives making one another happy.

We are so grateful that we could share our wedding with Barb, and so appreciative of the work done by the hospice team to accommodate our rather unusual request. It was a tear-filled day, but each one shed was the result of love. Barb was beaming and counted it as one of the single-greatest joys of her life. Shawn and I were beaming too.