Pa. couple move wedding to ER when groom has anxiety attack
Family and friends stood around his gurney as the pastor reminded them they were there for marriage vows, not last rites
By Paul Peirce
MONROEVILLE, Pa. — As his fiancee, Mary Pizzuto, a minister, and a few family members stood next to his gurney in the Forbes Hospital emergency room on Friday night, 68-year-old Robert J. Adams of North Huntingdon thought it was a good time for a little levity.
“I reminded the pastor we weren't there for last rites, but marriage vows,” Adams said with a smile at the hospital on Monday. “I always like to have a little fun.”
Adams suffered an anxiety attack at 6:15 p.m. Friday, 15 minutes before his wedding ceremony at the Jacktown Ride and Hunt Club in North Huntingdon.
The couple exchanged vows a few hours later than planned — in the emergency room.
“I wanted to go ahead with the wedding. She gave everything up for me,” said Adams, who has had heart bypass surgery in the past.
The new Mrs. Adams, 68, said she had no qualms about being married in a hospital.
“It really doesn't matter where it takes place. ... It is for better or for worse,” she said.
They don't expect to get teary-eyed every time they pass the hospital, where Robert Adams has been recuperating for three days. He expects to be discharged on Tuesday.
It is Mary's first marriage and her husband's third. She was friends with his first wife, and she and Robert reconnected about 18 months ago on Facebook after his second wife died of cancer.
“We hadn't been in contact for 36 years before that. She helped me after my second wife's death,” Robert Adams said.
While driving to his wedding on Friday, Adams was breathless, sweating profusely and felt tightness in his chest.
“I thought it might be the suit and tie, because I never wear one,” he said.
After he arrived at the club about 6 p.m., friends and family were concerned and called Rescue 8 Ambulance.
“I thought it was nerves,” Mary Adams said.
“The EMTs said I had to go to the hospital. I originally said, ‘Nope.' I wanted to go ahead with the ceremony first, but I asked Rev. (John) Gropp to come along, and he said that was no problem because it was on his way home to Duquesne,” Robert Adams said.
“I love her. I wanted to go ahead with it,” he said.
Hospital spokesman Jesse Miller said it is the first wedding ceremony he can recall in the emergency room in his two years at the hospital.
Mary Adams, formerly of Monroeville and Pitcairn, said the hospital staff was excited about the no-frills ceremony in the ER. She said staffers quickly strung together specimen cups for hanging decorations, wrote a congratulatory sign and crafted a bridal bouquet by piecing together rubber gloves, drink straws, cardboard and blue paper.
“I'm going to keep it,” Mary Adams said, clutching the makeshift bouquet as she gave her husband a peck on the cheek.
“We do plan to go back to the club eventually and have a little dinner,” she said.
Robert Adams will celebrate his 69th birthday on Thursday. The couple plans a delayed honeymoon in Las Vegas.
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