January 7th, 2020
Once again, the chapel at St. Mary’s General Hospital has been the venue for a couple to say their “I do’s” in the presence of a family member who received treatment at St. Mary’s.
Kyle Abshoff and Rhiannon Jansma, who live in Australia, were united in a civil ceremony at St. Mary’s on January 3, attended by Kyle’s grandparents Horst and Gisela Abshoff, of Kitchener. Horst, 87, was an inpatient at St. Mary’s for a couple of weeks before being discharged home on January 2 to have his care managed as an outpatient.
“I lived with my grandparents from the time I was 10,” said Kyle. “They are very proud to have been married for 67 years, and we wanted to include them in our wedding.”
He and Rhiannon travelled from Australia in mid-December and spent a few days in Florida where they got engaged. When they arrived in Kitchener to find his grandfather quite unwell, it was clear his grandparents wouldn’t be able to travel to the wedding they are planning in Asia. “We just decided to elope,” said Kyle.
They were able to quickly arrange for a marriage license, minister, bouquet and photographer. St. Mary’s was happy to accommodate the intimate civil ceremony.
The senior Abshoffs were honoured that Kyle and Rhiannon chose to expedite their nuptials so they could celebrate together. They provided some advice for the happy couple. “Never go to bed angry at one another, life’s too short”, said Horst. “And always remember to keep your marriage happy. ‘Yes dear’ always works.”
Resurrection Chapel at St. Mary’s has been the setting for a number of bittersweet occasions, mostly weddings for family members of palliative patients. In late 2018, within two weeks, St. Mary’s hosted two weddings and a funeral visitation.
“It is important to us that we facilitate when possible, such meaningful occasions for patients and their families,” said Gary Payne, Director of Spiritual Care for St. Joseph’s Health System, which includes St. Mary’s. “It’s the compassionate thing to do and is another example of the St. Mary’s way.”
The newlyweds expressed gratitude as they headed home to Australia. “We’d like to thank the team at St. Mary’s for the expert care in looking after our grandfather and family. They’ve been an immense support and we can’t thank them enough for everything that they’ve done for us.”