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Couple celebrates ‘ceremony of love’ with help of family, nurses and ‘Elvis’

Mona Lisa Mason and Gilbert “Gib” Thomas met three years ago at the Wichita senior living facility where they were both living, she on the fifth floor and he on the second.

“Thank goodness for elevators!” says Mona Lisa, who was introduced by a friend who needed her help in administering Gib’s eyedrops.

“He told me within the first few days he was in love with me,” says the 67-year-old retired dog groomer, adding, “Neither of us were looking for love, but we found it. He’s the love of my life, too.”

Last weekend, the pair had planned to celebrate a “ceremony of love” officiated by Gib’s brother-in-law, Dale Kenny, an ordained minister and Elvis Presley tribute artist, at a Newton car show.

But Gib, on dialysis for his failing kidneys, was once again in Ascension Via Christi St. Francis and doctors feared their 77-year-old patient might not survive the trip.

Disappointed, the former drag racer told his sister, Tess, “I need this to happen.”

So Tess talked with his nurse Emily Percival, RN, and asked if it would be OK to have the ceremony in his hospital room on 8SW. Her response: “Absolutely.”

By the 8:30 p.m. start of the ceremony, Percival had made arrangements for a bouquet of roses for the “bride” and a boutonniere for the “groom” and for extra chairs to be brought in for guests.

Dale, aka Elvis, was wearing his black leather suit at Gib’s request and Mona Lisa was wearing an off-white lace dress loaned to her by Tess, who served as her matron of honor. Gib’s brother, David Glenn, came in from Las Vegas to serve as his best man.

“The nurses were all so great,” says Tess, even helping Gib put on his red shirt so he wouldn’t have to be wed in a hospital gown.

During the brief ceremony, Dale sang five songs, starting with “In the Ghetto,” and ending with “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and presented the couple with a certificate commemorating their commitment.

Percival, along with fellow day-shift nurses, stayed to attend the ceremony and were joined by their night-shift peers.

“It was awesome,” says Roxane Mosley, RN. “I couldn’t believe how sweet it was.”

Alex Ambuehl, RN, says that Gib continues to battle his disease, even though he knows the end may be near.

“He’s told me on more than one occasion, ‘I just want to spend as much time as I can with this woman,’” says Ambuehl. “As a palliative care nurse, I encourage that because that’s his goal.”

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.