Sarah Bell and Nick Pilon, a young North Bay couple now living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, have been busy trying to coordinate their wedding plans long distance.
Their June wedding was to take place back home.
But in December, Sarah’s father Tom became gravely ill.
“He was put in the hospital in CCU December 12 for five days. He was discharged and was home for less than six hours when I had to call an ambulance. The doctors did a lot of tests and that is when they found out his kidneys were totally gone,” explained his wife Corinne.
Tom has been a patient at the North Bay Regional Health Centre ever since.
“My dad has been suffering for a long time. He was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure,” said daughter Lisa Bell.
“Sadly, he has been going through a lot of dialysis treatment, and he decided on Friday he had had enough. His last wish was to see my newborn son, and to see my sister get married.”
Sarah spoke with her father Friday about his decision, and whatever time he has left.
“I asked him what he wanted, what his wishes were. He said that he wanted to see me and Nick get married. So, we scrambled to figure it out and my sister Lisa did all this for us.”
It was the start of a whirlwind process that saw the young couple rush to make last minute arrangements to get to North Bay, so they could be married in Tom’s hospital room Sunday afternoon.
“They had to fly from Winnipeg to Toronto, stay overnight in Toronto and then they drove here. When we told him they were coming here to get married he was so happy. His face just lit up and a calmness came over him,” said Corinne.
“He had a big, big smile. ‘Oh, good’ he said. He kept saying to me “Are you going to be okay?” And I told him I was going to be fine, don’t worry about me. We’re all going to be fine.”
Lying in his hospital bed, breathing through an oxygen mask, with a boutonniere pinned to his top, Tom gave a thumbs up as his daughter walked into the room wearing her wedding gown.
A corner of the room had been decorated for the occasion, and it was there the young couple exchanged vows in a moving ceremony witnessed by close family members and friends.
“He didn’t want any medication so he could be aware of what is going on and his surroundings,” said Corinne prior to the wedding.
Following the ceremony, Tom was asked how he felt.
“I feel happy she got married,” he slowly replied.
Sarah, with her hand on his shoulder, smiled down at her dad.
“I feel very calm,” she said.
“This has been very nerve-wracking. There are a lot of emotions that are happening here, but I’m happy that he got to see me get married, and all his wishes came true.”
The father and daughter shared a special moment at his bedside.
“When I went over to him, he said congratulations, and that he loved me, and then I started crying.”
Tom’s new son-in-law was also relieved that they were able to make the day happen.
“Being military, they allowed me to leave because I didn’t have any more time off, so they allowed me time to come home. I’m very thankful this all came together. Everything just happened to line up,” said Pilon.
Even with so much going on, Tom was still able to make them laugh, something Corinne appreciates.
“He loves both his girls. They’re both daddy’s girls. He’s always been a good father, a good husband, provided for everybody and made sure they were fine. And he is quite the jokester. He loves to joke around all the time. One thing I will miss is his jokes.”