When Madison Wisby walked down the aisle to marry the man of her dreams in January, there was one person who had to be there to witness the occasion: her great-grandfather, Michael Cooper.
But Mr Cooper was a resident of Maryvale Private Hospital in Victoria and time was running short. In fact, Madison had already received the phone call she had been dreading – that she had to come and say her final goodbye.
“Adan, who is now my husband, and I had agreed that if it looked like Poppy was going to pass away, he was not going to miss my wedding,” she said.
“We weren’t even officially engaged at that point, but we decided to get married and then I got on the phone to Maryvale Private and they helped plan the wedding in about three hours.”
Mr Cooper had been a popular and well-loved member of staff at Maryvale Private for almost 27 years in the stores department.
“As soon as I rang them and said, ‘I’m Mike Cooper’s great-granddaughter’, they told me, ‘We are going to make this happen for you’,” Madison said.
Arriving at his bedside on 7 January, Madison said she told to him to “rest up because I had a big surprise for him the next day”.
“I was extremely worried, with COVID restrictions, about how it was going to happen.
“I asked the hospital if maybe we could have three extra people in the room, my parents and the celebrant, and I was just prepared to get married in a hospital room but they went, ‘We can do better’,” she said.
Maryvale Private Hospital CEO Lee Garwood said staff arranged to have the wedding held outside in the gardens.
“We had been able to provide a lovely tribute to Michael by planting a rose and installing a bird bath in our gardens – Michael was a bird enthusiast,” he said.
“We had the wedding in the grounds, so that select members of the family could be there and Michael was taken outside for the occasion. It was such a special day and in these circumstances as well, there was really not a dry eye in the house.
“The team here were really amazing and just got everything together, and to make it COVID-safe as well was incredible.”
Madison said when her great-grandfather realised he was going to be able to see her get married, he became “quite choked up”.
“I said to him, ‘You can’t cry, otherwise I’m going to start crying’. And he said to me, ‘Well, we can’t have the bride crying too much’.
“It was just really, really special, the garden was perfect, everyone was crying, all the staff – I think Lee just managed to keep it together.”
Mr Cooper passed away on 11 January, and Madison said she missed him “every day”.
“He would be so over-the-moon with everything that has happened – even people writing about the wedding – he would have bragging rights forever,” she said.
Mr Garwood said Mr Cooper had been “a part of the Maryvale family”.
“He was very affectionately well known to everyone. His life ended here at the hospital, and our staff provided that end-of-life care for him.
“A wedding is an emotional time normally, but this one was really very special. There was lots of smiles, lots of laughter, lots of tears, we were just delighted that we could make this happen for the family," he added.
“We got some lovely photos for Madison, and for Michael to be able to put up in his room as well, which he loved.”
Madison and Adan, who welcomed daughter Elouise in September, are planning to renew their vows in 2022.
“We’re planning to have a full formal ceremony next year, with the dress and everything, so that all our family and friends can be there,” she said.
“And we’re also hoping to finally have a honeymoon in the middle of next year. Elouise is five months now, and there’s not been a lot of time to rest.
“Poppy had always wanted to see me get married and have a baby, so being able to see his great-great-grandchild was so special – not many people get to do that.
“And then, to have him there at my wedding, it was more than I ever could have hoped for.”