Until death do they part: Baptist Health Paducah nurses help a sick patient get married

PADUCAH — We all want forever with our loved ones, but sometimes there is a time limit. 

Roger and Beckie have been together five years and were ready to get married, but a major health issue put a pause in that plan. 

Hospital staff at Baptist Health Paducah made sure Roger Mays got married before it was too late. They quickly organized a wedding for the couple on Wednesday. 

“It hasn’t been an easy five years, but I think it was meant to be,” Beckie said next to Roger in the hospital room.

“Well, the last month we were planning to go to the courthouse to get married, and he had a stroke — a major one,” said Beckie.We were going to do it today, and yesterday he has had more trouble and is back in the hospital, so we weren’t going to do it today either.”

She said the stroke created a lot of new obstacles. “Ways of communicating. The love is not the ordinary love that you expect. Some people would walk out. I’ve had people tell me that. You know, they say you didn’t sign up for this, but I did,” Beckie said.

“The original plan today was for them not to be in the hospital, but to be in the courthouse getting married,” said Baptist Health Paducah Director of Patient Relations Stacey Young. “The nurses feel compelled to make that happen for them.”

“I called and got some cake, and that turned up a minister,” said Allee Canter, who is a nurse on that floor.

“We didn’t know we had an ordained minister,” said Kattie Koehler, the charge nurse.

“Yeah, Jim down in food and nutrition, Jim Duncan, he’s an ordained minister,” Canter said.

“We were able to get wedding rings from the gift shop,” Young said. “The patient’s attending physician served as the best man.”

“Really it happened quick. I mean it was like 30 to 45 minutes,” said Koehler.

“We have the entire nursing staff doing wedding planning,” said Young.

“He might not make it,” Beckie said. “I wanted to make sure that all of his wishes that I can give him till the very end are made.”

“Whatever happens in the next week or so, if they do the surgery and he doesn’t make it, I know at least that he’s happy and I have his name to carry on,” said Beckie, who now shares the last name Mays with her new husband.

“His prognosis is so poor. We don’t get to see like the good sometimes. Like, even if he didn’t make it, at least we fulfill his wishes,” Canter said, crying.

Until death do they part. They both said I do.

You didn’t hear from Roger in this story because, Beckie said, his stroke took away his ability to speak, but over the last few weeks he is starting to slowly speak again. He also lost control of one of his hands. Doctors are unsure about Roger’s prognosis. 

To watch the full video of the Mays’ wedding ceremony, click here.