PLEASANTON -- The bride wore a flowing lavender gown. The groom wore a dark suit with pink roses on his lapel.
A flute played, those watching wept, and bride and groom statuettes sat atop the cake.
It was a traditional wedding in many ways except for the setting: a nursing and rehabilitation home where hospice patient Rhonda Jackson tied the knot Thursday with her beau of 13 years.
Jackson, 60, and Jerzy Robert Gembura, 55, said they decided to marry now, in part because they hope Jackson is in remission from the leukemia that forced her to move two years ago into Pleasanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Their simple ceremony, attended by some 25 caregivers, deepened the meaning of often repeated wedding vows to care for each other in sickness and health and stay together until "death do us part," guests and the chaplain said
"I hope the remission is permanent," said Jackson who is not strong enough walk because of the effects of the cancer and other ailments. Jackson said her doctor told her two years ago to expect to live only a few more weeks.
"You never know," she said. "You take one day at a time."
Jackson called the ceremony one of the best days of her life, although she quipped later that she had no immediate plans to honeymoon or hit the town.
"I'm not going dancing tonight," she said.
The couple -- who lived together in Pleasanton before Jackson moved into the nursing home in 2010 --
Jackson and Gembura had planned a quiet bedside ceremony, but her caregivers at the facility and those with Vitas Innovative Hospice Care didn't want the first wedding at the nursing facility to go unnoticed.
They ramped up planning, provided a wedding gown, a flutist, balloons, bubbles, a wedding cake and sparkling cider in the living room at the home.
Those caregivers let go with a din of clapping and cheering after the couple was pronounced man and wife by a hospice chaplain.
"It was a very emotional event for us," said Lisa Foster, admission director at the 139-bed home on Neal Street. "They are like family to us."
Gembura and Jackson met nearly 14 years ago via an online dating service.
This is the first marriage for Gembura, an unemployed electrical engineer looking for work.
Jackson is a former architectural designer who has been married three times before.
"I know this is the one that is going to last," she said. "It's like a new beginning."
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff