Father joins Hattiesburg bride down the aisle before passing
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - There’s a lot that goes into planning the perfect wedding day, but for one Hattiesburg resident, that special day had to be planned less than three days after her father became extremely sick.
“Literally, one of the happiest days and one of the saddest days of your life together,” Kerri West said.
West recalls her wedding day. A date was scheduled for December but pushed up to late spring after her father, who had leukemia, developed an infection he couldn’t fight.
“For dad and me both, he had to be there,” West said.
Her father, Talbert Easterling, was admitted to The Asbury Hospice House in Hattiesburg. West says she knew she had to get married at that time. She and her husband spoke to staff members and got approval to have their wedding there.
“It was really important to us that he make it to the wedding ceremony,” Tyra Idom, Business Development Coordinator at The Asbury Hospice House said. “It was important that we found a way to get him down the aisle for him to be present.”
“The turnaround was hard because it was, you know, three days,” West said. “It was like we had to get rings, we had to get a dress, we had to get a suit, you know, all of these things, but it all just fell into place cause it was meant to be.”
West says her dad was hardly speaking, but she remembers his reaction when he first saw her on her wedding day.
“When I came in from having my hair and makeup done, my mom commented on how beautiful I looked, and he opened his eyes and smiled and saw me,” West said.
Thanks to help from family, friends, and The Asbury Hospice House, her father was able to join her down the aisle.
“My nephew pushed him down the aisle with me, in the bed,” West said. “I can remember coming down the aisle and seeing all of these Forrest General employees from everywhere that were there to support the wedding, as well and my husband’s boss was there. I mean, all of these people, not a dry eye in the building, and I just remember feeling so loved and supported.”
Seeing them walk down the aisle was the most emotional and magical moment I’ve probably ever experienced here at Asbury,” Idom said.
Easterling held on long enough to see his daughter get married.
“At about eleven o’clock that night, he and my mom had about an hour together where he was talking and asking her questions,” West said. He asked, “Did we have the wedding? Did I walk her down the aisle? Did I give her away?” They had a good moment together, and then they both went to sleep, and it was probably an hour after that, that he passed.”
West says she will forever be grateful for everyone who made it possible for her father to be there on her wedding day.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” West said.
The Asbury Hospice House says many businesses in the Pine Belt helped by providing food and items necessary for the wedding.
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