A Columbus couple moved their wedding to a local hospice so they could share their day with a beloved grandfather.
Adam Cross and Jennifer Jackson, both of Columbus, had planned to be married Oct. 19 next year. But when Jackson’s grandfather, Billy Hill, was diagnosed with cancer several months ago, and eventually was moved to Our Hospice of South Central Indiana, the couple decided they needed to rethink their plans.
“He became sick in just three months, and the treatments were not being successful,” the bride said. “We knew we needed to push the date up.”
Through conversations with staff members at Our Hospice, a nurse told the couple that the hospice chapel was available on site and that hospice staff members wanted to help by hosting the wedding, providing an opportunity for Hill to attend.
Hill had told the couple that he really wanted to attend the wedding, originally planned at a local church, but felt it would be too difficult to travel outside the hospice.
“He’s a strong independent man,” Jackson said of her grandfather, who was a Korean War veteran. “He’s the glue that held us all together. Grandpa is my hero.”
The date was moved up to Nov. 1 to be held at Our Hospice, and friends and family scrambled to put together the ceremony, find a photographer and arrange for flowers.
“We decided to wing it,” Jackson said, crediting Adam and Amber Sharp who did photography and Sarah Miller, who took on the wedding planning duties, with much of the pre-wedding work. Local minister Bob Stillinger, assisted by his wife Cassie, agreed to perform the ceremony.
Jackson, who works at Enkei America in Columbus, already had her dress. Cross, who works at Cummins, Inc., scrambled to get a suit and help with other details, he said.
On the day of the wedding, Hill was brought to the chapel in a wheelchair, and was among the guests — a handful of local family members from both sides of the family — to witness the vows.
“He teared up as he watched the ceremony,” Jackson said of looking over to see her grandfather during the ceremony. “They were tears of joy.”
Rather than a reception, the family gathered for wedding photos, using the lobby fireplace as a backdrop. They later went out to eat, and are planning a second ceremony and reception next year for the out-of-town family members who couldn’t be at the Nov. 1 wedding.
In the midst of the joy of their marriage, and the chance to have the family together with Hill at the ceremony, there is some sadness in the aftermath of the couple’s wedding.
Hill died at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday at Our Hospice, just hours before the couple stopped in at The Republic to share their wedding story and to thank Our Hospice staff members and friends and family for making their wedding possible.
“If it wasn’t for Our Hospice, none of this would have been possible,” said Jackson, who has now changed her last name to Cross. “The people who work with Hospice were so sweet and understanding.”
She said her grandfather died in his sleep, but knew that his granddaughter and her new husband were being interviewed about their unusual wedding that was planned so he could attend.
“He was the proudest grandpa ever about us,” she said, glancing over at her husband.
“She was his favorite,” Cross said of his bride.