POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – A nursing home is one of the lastplaces you would think to hold a wedding, but that's exactly whereone couple from Pocahontas decided to renew their vows on their goldenanniversary.
The bride and groom did not have much choice in venue, butthe Gipsons would not have had it any other way.
When Conie and Peggy Gipson first walked down the aisle in 1964,they had no ceremony. Instead of a wedding, they simply said 'I do' at theirpreacher's house.
"I tell everybody if there is such a thing as a perfectmarriage, our marriage is perfect," Conie said. "It seemed like we just knew we were made for each other. She was 16, and I was 18 when we got married."
Fifty years later now, they finally had the wedding theyalways wanted, but, this time, they exchanged vows at the Randolph County NursingHome in Pocahontas.
Both Conie and Peggy previously worked at the nursing home, andthey've come to know the staff members there more as family members than coworkers.
"They were always together," Dewanda Dooley, the nursinghome social director, said about the couple. "Anytime you saw one, you alwayssaw the other. You never saw them apart. They were always together."
Conie recently had to move his wife into the nursing home sothat she could recover from leg surgery. She's also facing a cancer prognosisthat has progressively gotten worse.
"I couldn't care for her at home," Conie said, "so I said we'regoing to put you in a rehab. She said well, let's go where all my friends andfamily are, so I brought her here."
When the staff found out the Gipsons wanted to renew theirvows for their 50th anniversary, they decided to all pitch in andthrow the first wedding they've ever hosted at the nursing home.
"We would have done this for whomever," said Paula Swift,the nursing home's administrator, "but Conie and Peg are very special to us.They said they wanted to do it and with all the circumstances we just wanted toget in there and help them."
In just three days, the staff transformed the dining area into a chapel and areception area complete with brightly-colored flowers and a lighted arch. Peggy's family members also got her the white wedding dressshe'd never worn. With her family members and friends surrounding her, she camedown the aisle in her hospital bed Saturday to reaffirm her love to the man she'sknown more than 50 years.
Emotions ran high, as attendees passed around boxes oftissue and wiped away tears throughout the ceremony. Some said they could notcontain their emotions witnessing a love that's only grown stronger with time.
"I just wish everybody that gets married could be as happyas we have been after 50 years," Conie said. "I mean, I love her now, like hernow even after 50 years. That has never, never grown cold. We've doneeverything together, and we've communicated.
"It's a God thing," he added, "and I appreciate her everyday more now than I did when I was younger."
After the pastor told him that he could kiss the bride,Conie turned to the crowd and said, "I'd do it another 50 if I could."