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Buffalo couple celebrates 50th wedding anniversary at Southeastern Med

Published: October 23, 2011 11:00 AM
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Despite being in critical condition, Robert Eltringham was determined to express his never-ending love for his wife, Pat, on their golden wedding anniversary. During a small ceremony in the Intensive Care Unit at Southeastern Med on Oct. 4, he repeated the same vows he promised his beautiful bride 50 years ago.

The couple, who share five children, originally exchanged vows on Oct. 4, 1961, at the Byesville Methodist Church. Robert secretly planned to renew his vows with Pat on their anniversary before he became ill and hospitalized in September with toxic megacolon, a life-threatening complication of inflammatory bowel disease that causes rapid widening of the large intestine.

When the staff learned of our special anniversary, they went the extra mile to help us plan the event and make our dream a reality, Pat said. On that day, Robert wasnt doing so well, and we didnt think we were going to be able to hold the ceremony. But hes a bit stubborn and nothing was going to stand in his way of the ceremony. The staff really went above and beyond to accommodate us and get his doctors blessing before the ceremony.

While surrounded by their children and their spouses, the Eltringhams looked on while their pastor, Kenny Thomas, from the East Forty Church of Christ, blessed their marriage, and a reception followed for the couple, their children and spouses Patricia and Jeff Davis of Cumberland; Terry and Donnetta Tracy of New Concord; Laura and Jim West of Cumberland; Robbie and Barbara Eltringham of Buffalo; and Jason Eltringham of Buffalo.

The ICU staff was understandably worried, but we worked together with a team of physical and respiratory therapists to determine Mr. Eltringhams specific needs to hold the ceremony, said Rita Mellot, a registered nurse in the ICU at Southeastern Med. With the support and blessing of both Drs. Sarap and Mahayri, we were able to help the couple plan a very special day. We wish this wonderful family many years of happiness and health.

A week after the celebration, Robert was finally well enough to be released from the hospital. He is now at home recuperating, and the family is planning a small celebration for when he is fully recovered.

Right now, we are focusing on celebrating life, Pat said. The love and support of our family during such a difficult time helped in his recovery. His improvement is a miracle, and we are truly blessed to have been able to celebrate our 50th anniversary together.

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