Tara Foley was about to get married to the love of her life in Austin, Texas. However, her grandmother, Stasia, couldn’t fly to her wedding from Naples, Florida, where she is placed in hospice care. But Tara wouldn’t let anything get in the way of her grandma seeing her in a wedding dress, so she came to her instead.
When the head nurse of the hospice asked 102-year-old Stasia if she had any goals for the next few months, she had one on her list that was major – to make it to her granddaughter’s wedding in June.
Despite how lovely her goal was, the chances of it happening were quite slim. Aside from her advanced age, Stasia has ongoing heart problems, and her doctors didn’t want her to fly anymore. Tara understood that her grandmother was set on attending her wedding, and she knew that she was probably hoping that they’d make it happen somehow despite the circumstances.
“My nana was always an extremely independent woman who did nearly everything on her own, but when her heart started to fail, she started to slow down,” Tara told HuffPost.
If her grandma couldn’t make it to her wedding, Tara was determined to give her the experience closest to it. Unbeknownst to her family, the soon-to-be-bride flew from her home in Texas to her grandma in Florida with her unaltered wedding gown.
She hired local photographer Marie Kamp of Red Door Photography to take photos of her surprise visit in January 2019.
“When I got there, I already had all my makeup on, so I asked my aunt and uncle to send Nana outside so she wouldn’t see me all dolled up,” Tara said. “They didn’t tell her who was visiting but when Nana saw me, she said, ‘I thought it was going to be you!’”
Stasia was all smiles seeing her granddaughter as a bride.
“She was just so surprised,” Tara said. “She stretched out her arms and reached for a hug the moment she saw me and told me I was beautiful.”
Though Stasia was weak at the time, Tara said that it was as if the younger version of her grandma showed in those moments that they were together.
“She got lost in the moment with me,” she said. “We laughed and smiled and loved every second of it.”
Tara shared the beautiful snapshots of that memorable day through a Facebook post, and she reflected on how special it was.
She wrote: “When I said goodbye to her that night, I think we both knew it would be the last time we would see each other. She grabbed my cheeks with her hands, looked me straight in the eye and said ‘I love you very much,’ and 27 days later, she passed away.”
When Tara’s wedding came around six months later, she surprised her family by revealing framed pictures of her visit to the hospice. Photographer Misty McLendon was there to capture the touching moment before the wedding ceremony.
“My dad couldn’t believe what he was seeing,” Tara said. “He was so moved and touched by the photo itself that he first thought I had gotten someone to Photoshop two pictures together.”
Tara had always admired her grandmother for how she lived her life – for everything that she had done as a young woman and for all that she did for her family.
“I was determined to get to her so she could see me in my dress and feel included in my special day,” Tara said. “She was beyond an amazing woman. I am so blessed to have this be my last memory with her.”