It’s stories like this that restore my faith in humankind.
Staff at a hospital in Tokyo went the extra mile this week by organising a second wedding ceremony especially for a patient who was unable to attend his daughter’s wedding in October.
The patient, 57-year-old Masaru Tanaka, was admitted to the hospital in December last year after the driver of a truck knocked him off his motorbike, confining him to a hospital bed after suffering a severe cerebral hemmorhage. Hearing the sad news that Masaharu was unable to attend his own daughter’s wedding, staff at Akirudai Hospital in west Tokyo put their heads together to bring the celebrations to him instead.
Bride and groom Erika and Eisuke (both 26) were married last month, but the celebrations were marred by the fact that Erika’s much-loved father was not able to see her walk down the aisle.
Confined to a wheelchair and only able to move his left hand and eyes, Erika’s father was forced to remain in hospital at the time of the ceremony after staff grew concerned that his high blood pressure could cause further complications.
Erika, a self-confessed “daddy’s girl”, told reporters at Japan’s Yomiuri Shinbun, that prior to his tragic accident, she and her father would often go out for ramen together and that she always turned to him in times of trouble. Upon hearing the family’s sad story, Gentaro Iwasawa, welfare consultant at the hospital where Erika’s father is undergoing rehabilitation, approached the newly wedded bride and proposed that they put together a second ceremony that her father could take part in.
Using a space ordinarily reserved for dining and counselling sessions, the hospital staff built a mock chapel, complete with a rose-covered archway and a deep red wedding aisle, or “virgin road” as it is known here in Japan. The hospital’s social workers even formed a small choir and performed a few hymns during the ceremony, which saw Erika walk down the aisle alongside her father, smartly dressed and seated in a wheelchair.
Erika’s mother wiped tears from Masaru’s eyes as he proudly watched his daughter exchange vows with her new husband before their friends, family and around 100 hospital staff.
Speaking to a reporter afterwards, Erika’s mother thanked the staff at the hospital repeatedly, saying that the family “thought it would never be possible” for Masaru to see his daughter tie the knot.
At the end of the ceremony, Erika read a letter to her guests, closing with a special message to her father:
“When you get better, we’ll go and have ramen together like we used to. This time it’ll be my treat. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”
Well you’ll have to excuse this normally cynical Brit for saying so, but that last line brought a tear to my eye…
Have a good weekend, Rocketeers!
▼Akiru Hospital is situated in the town of Akiruno, west Tokyo