Desiree Letellier works the overnight shift and Krista Callan the day shift on a cardiac floor at Winchester Hospital.
The two nurses, who often hand off patients to one another, both grew to love Sylvia Beaulieu, 69, a frequent patient. Beaulieu had one goal: to live long enough to attend her son’s wedding on Sept. 15.
She hung her aqua-colored dress in the kitchen of her Wakefield home as inspiration. But a week before the wedding day, she was admitted to the hospital. Then with just 48 hours until the wedding, Beaulieu’s health deteriorated to the point where doctors thought she would not live.
“She knew what her prognosis was,” said Callan, of Tewksbury. “But she knew she wanted to make it to Sept. 15.”
Doctors, nurses, aides, and other staff at the hospital rallied to help. Once her blood pressure and other vital signs improved, the hospital came up with a plan for Beaulieu to hear the vows at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Lynnfield.
“It was a scramble,” said Chrissie Quill, the nurse manager who coordinated the effort. “But we really wanted to do whatever was necessary to get her there.”
The physical therapy department provided a reclining wheelchair. An ambulance was arranged to take her to the church, with Letellier and Callan on board. Though both were on a day off, they volunteered to take her to the wedding.
“They just said to me, ‘We want to take her,’ ” Quill said. “I knew she’d be in the best care with them.”
But there was the task of grooming the mother-of-the-groom.
Teresa DeSimone and Colleen Hannafin, both nurse’s aides, did her hair and painted her fingernails pale pink.
And, of course, she wore her aqua dress, accented with silver slippers.
“She looked beautiful,” Letellier said. “She just lit up. It was really an honor to go with her.”
Once at the church, Beaulieu was greeted by her son, James, and his groomsmen. More pictures were snapped before she was wheeled down the aisle. After the ceremony, she returned to the hospital, where a nurse bought her dinner.
She died Oct. 6, three weeks after the day she had lived for.