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SLO woman was given 3 months to live. So her son got married at her hospital bedside

Les and Tamara Fields were married in a bedside ceremony at French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo 24 hours after Les’ mother was diagnosed with terminal emphysema. The couple had previously planned to marry in Florida.
Les and Tamara Fields were married in a bedside ceremony at French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo 24 hours after Les’ mother was diagnosed with terminal emphysema. The couple had previously planned to marry in Florida.

The Fields intended to get married in Florida — and they will have a ceremony there eventually.

They’ll just have already gotten married beforehand, in the Intensive Care Unit at French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

Les and Tamara Fields were married in a small ceremony Monday, only a day after doctors diagnosed Les Fields’ mother, Barbara, with terminal emphysema — and said she had between three to 12 months to live.

“Obviously, it’s run the whole gamut of emotion,” Les Fields said Friday. “From the highest highs to the lowest lows.”

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Because his mother would not be able to travel to Florida for a wedding, the couple decided they would get married where she could be an important part. And they would do it within 24 hours.

“When we told her what we were doing, her face lit up,” Les Fields said. “That said something, considering she had just received some of the worst news a person can get.”

The whirlwind wedding is actually fitting for the couple, who started dating in May of this year, and within about a month were engaged.

Both had previously known each other growing up in a small town called Anna, Illinois, but it wasn’t until this year that they reconnected, following the death of Les Fields’ second wife.

“We made a huge connection,” Tamara Fields said. “I felt like it was meant to be.”

Scenes from Lifetime's reality TV series "Little Weddings." The Nov. 23, 2016, episode features Los Osos couple Mia and Craig Hill's dream wedding inspired by classic cars and bowling.

In the past three months, Tamara Fields has also bonded with Fields’ mother, describing her as “a little spitfire, and the sweetest heart you will ever meet.”

So what goes into planning a wedding in 24 hours? “Everything just fell into place,” Les Fields said.

First, they had to get the rings: A stop in to The Gold Concept in downtown San Luis Obispo got that job done — “they just happened to have the perfect rings, and we didn’t even have to have them sized,” Les Fields said.

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Les Fields' mother had "the biggest smile on her face" throughout the entire ceremony, he said. Courtesy Photo

Next, they went to Vons grocery store and told the flower attendant what they wanted for a bouquet, boutonniere and a corsage for his mom.

They also had to contact the hospital chaplain, and ensure that she was willing to perform the ceremony later that day. French Hospital chaplain and Manager of Spiritual Care Flora Washburn readily agreed.

“It isn’t often we have a wedding in the hospital,” Washburn said in a news release. “It was inspiring to see the staff come together to make this beautiful moment a possibility for our patient and her family.”

French Hospital communication specialist Kailey Cox said that while weddings do happen in the Intensive Care Unit, they aren’t frequent. She said the last recorded wedding was in 2015, when a bride was admitted for congestive heart failure and she and her partner decided to get married there.

After getting their marriage license from the county clerk-recorder’s office, the Fields were ready to get hitched. By that time, it was only 3:30 p.m.

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Tamara Fields, a registered nurse herself, described the ceremony, which featured hospital nurses and caregivers, as “everything she could have wanted.”

“It was actually very beautiful,” she said. “Is there a better place for a nurse to get married than a hospital?”

Right in the middle of all the hubub was Fields’ mother; they arranged the ceremony around her bed, with Les, Tamara and the chaplain by her side.

She had the biggest smile on her face throughout the ceremony, both Les and Tamara Fields said.

“(Les) told me, ‘My mom has never taken to someone like she has to you,’” Tamara Fields said. “‘I’ve never seen her so happy.’”

Now that they are married, the couple plans to split their time between here and Phoenix, Arizona, where Tamara Fields owns a home.

The important thing, they both said, is that over the next few months, family will be with his mother during her final days.

“I told him, whatever your mom needs, I am here for it,” Tamara Fields said. “I’m here for you.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie
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