When they told Roberta Earle, 71, that a wedding was taking place, she said, in a tremulous and barely audible voice, “Who’s the poor sucker?”
She didn’t mean it. The groom was her son, Kriss Workman, and she had already advised her future daughter-in-law to marry him.
On Saturday, Workman married his longtime girlfriend, Betty Eliason, in a ceremony at The Next Inning, an assisted living facility in Orfordville.
The Rev. Susan Shands from Agrace Hospice led the ceremony attended by family, friends, other residents, hospice workers, nurses, assisted living staff and the home’s cat, who wandered through in the middle of the ceremony.
“We wanted to have it here so mom could see it,” Workman said. “That was important to us.”
His mother has Parkinson’s disease and dementia, and she is in hospice care.
The event was a surprise. On Saturday morning, staff at The Next Inning did Earle’s hair and helped her put on her best dress.
Her son was there, but she thought he was just visiting.
When he leaned down to her wheelchair to tell her, she made her little joke. And then her face crumpled up into tears.
But that’s typical, said her sister Elaine Steiner. Earle is a master of the sharp crack, but she’s a deeply emotional person.
“She cries at happy movies, she cries at sad movies,” Steiner said.
During the ceremony, Steiner held her sister’s hand. Earle watched intently as the couple exchanged vows and lit a unity candle together.
After that, it was time for family photos and an informal dinner.
It was the first wedding for The Next Inning, said Kim Baxter, facility manager.
Agrace and Starr Nunn, The Next Inning’s owner, helped make the wedding possible. Best Events, the Janesville catering company, provided the post-wedding dinner.