The staff at Sebastian River Medical Center Staff gave James and Cheryl Petzing a 50th wedding anniversary that they will never forget. It was an intimate lunch setting for two in a private dining area with Michael Bublé’s version of “What a Wonderful World” echoing throughout the room, candles, flowers, cake, a beautiful table setting, and sparkling cider over ice during this health crisis.
The couple celebrated 50 years of marriage on August 7th, but their celebration was different than most.
Five weeks ago, James was admitted to Sebastian River Medical Center for a procedure. He needed short-term rehabilitative services, so he was admitted into Sebastian River Medical Center’s Transitional Care Unit. Due to COVID-19 hospital visitor restrictions being implemented by many hospitals, James had not been able to see his wife since his procedure day five weeks ago. While in the Transitional Care Unit, he informed staff that the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary was coming and wished he could be celebrating with his wife.
“This time is a challenge for so many that have loved ones in the hospital, rehabilitation centers or long-term care centers,” said Lisa Truman, Director, Transitional Care Unit, Sebastian River Medical Center. “When milestones like a 50th anniversary occur, we can no longer have the big celebrations with family and friends, but it’s even harder when you can’t be with your significant other for such a milestone due to these unique circumstances. The staff of the Transitional Care Unit wanted to find a way to bring James and Cheryl together for their 50th anniversary and make it a special event for them.”
The staff worked together with dietary services and administration to help make this day as special as possible. They arranged for Cheryl to come to the hospital and surprise James on their anniversary. She went through the proper screening protocol, and when she was cleared, she was then taken to the Transitional Care Unit, where she entered her husband’s room.
The joy was immediately evident when James cried tears of joy at the sight of his beloved wife. Five weeks of not being able to see one another overtook both. It was a blessed reunion.
The happy couple received flowers and a corsage before being escorted to a waiting room within the hospital. Once there, a table with white rose petals was present, and a label that read “reception,” cards, and a wedding day photo of James and Cheryl.
As they entered the waiting room, it looked like a setting from a formal reception or party. There were beautiful flowers, balloons, decorations, a cake and a table set for lunch with electric candles, a bucket of sparkling cider, one single rose, and rose petals. The couple’s special moment was witnessed by hospital staff members – at a safe distance – and there was not a dry eye among them.
James and Cheryl’s love for one another and the joy they felt when reunited on this special day was a moment that no one that witnessed it will ever forget.
One last surprise awaited James and Cheryl.
Sebastian River Medical Center employee, Kay Wright, serenaded the happy couple with Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath my Wings.” During the song, James reached over and took his wife’s hand.
When James was asked what the secret was to a long and happy marriage, he responded saying, “Tell your significant other three words at least three times daily, and those words are ‘I love you.'”
This may not have been the 50th-anniversary celebration James and Cheryl had planned, but the staff of the Transitional Care Unit at Sebastian River Medical Center made it memorable and brought together a man and wife who were just happy to be together, not only for the last 50 years but for the day to celebrate their anniversary.