Sharing the Love: Wedding Bells at Local Nursing Home
At first, the scene was reminiscent of Father of the Bride, a classic, serio-comic glimpse into the lives of a seemingly normal household turned upside down while arranging the daughter’s wedding.
But while the wedding at Poplar Bluff’s Oakdale Care Center last Tuesday evening offered plenty of excitement, it was a sense of love, friendship, and true calm in the midst of action which made it an unforgettable experience.
Certified Nurse’s Aides Guy Montgomery of Poplar Bluff and Tonya Wells of Ellsinore met at Oakdale over a year ago, and subsequently fell in love, which might not in itself be an uncommon development.
But the two caregivers found that they had also fallen in love with the many seniors they served, and could not imagine a wedding ceremony that did not include them.
And so it was that in the last full hour of daylight on a stunning June evening, gentle winds swept a crowded Oakdale courtyard where several dozen residents, co-workers, friends, and visitors joined family for the Montgomery wedding. The Oakdale motto, “It’s about quality of life”, was made real in a special way as the two exchanged vows before those assembled.
The ceremony included the couple’s 4-month-old son Guy, Jr. as ring bearer (he got a little help from the bride’s mother, Betty McDaniels, pictured with him below); the bride’s sister, Gail Stucker, as bridesmaid; and Gail’s daughter Mallory as flower girl. Cara Weible was maid of honor; Johnny Weible, best man; and Gerald McDaniels had the honor of giving the bride away.
Again, there was frenetic activity behind the scenes prior to the actual ceremony, which was officiated by the Rev. Shelvie Stephens of Calvary Community Church in Poplar Bluff. A close-knit band of Oakdale employees—uniquely skilled in areas ranging from event-planning to CPR—created a one-of-a-kind evening for the bride and groom. Indeed, this was probably the only wedding in history where Dierks Bentley (“My Last Name”) shared the same musical bill with Keith Sweat (“Make It Last Forever”), and the median age of the assembly was about 75. It was a wedding where it didn’t seem unusual to hear a cheery young reception server ask an elder: “…How ’bout one of these sandwiches? Have you got your teeth in?” Love took many forms as the sun went down that day.
Among Cupid’s Fabulous Wedding Helpers: Karen Romine, Oakdale Activities Director; Jeanie Mathias, Social Services Director; Crystal Walsh, Supervisor, Housekeeping and Laundry; Tina Scott of the Laundry Department; Elizabeth Francis of the front office; Nurse Debbie Buhler; and CNAs Andrea Heredia-Pruett, Samantha Handley, and Mike Walker. Their efforts shaped a memory the bride and groom will treasure into their own silver-haired years.
“When I put on Tonya’s ring,” remembers Guy, “it hit me that [the minister] had just said God’s love was eternal.
“So when he gave me a chance to say a few words, I said to her: ‘As God’s love is eternal, so does this ring represent that my love for you is eternal.'”
Tonya has a personal message for her new husband, the sort of message that re-ignites faith in the depth of commitment two people can share in our rather restless times.
“This is to Guy: I love him with all my heart, and I wouldn’t change nothin’ for the world.”
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The Montgomerys would like to thank Oakdale for allowing them to have their wedding at the facility, and would like to thank family, friends, and colleagues for their support.