— Ashley Broering believes the only thing that was keeping her terminally ill mother alive was the anticipation of seeing her daughter walk down the aisle.
Thanks to a pair of laptops and Skype, Patty Davisson was able to make it to that special day even though she couldn’t be there in person. She was given a front row seat from her hospital bed, watching through a computer screen as Ashley tied the knot with husband, Beau Broering, on May 6. Eighteen days after the wedding, Davisson died from cancer at 54 years old.
Thanks to technology, her 26-year-old daughter takes solace that her mother was able to share her special day.
“It’s amazing that we have this kind of technology at our disposal, and we’re very, very thankful,’’ Ashley told TODAY.com. “The best she would’ve gotten is a video, but it just made it so much better that her presence was there. She wasn’t there in body, but she was there.’’
Ashley and Beau, 26, began dating in 2006. The two, who both attended Harrison (Ohio) High School, had planned to elope, but instead decided on a formal ceremony. Patty was diagnosed with rectal cancer in August 2009, and it reached stage four by the time of the wedding.
“They say that people in that kind of situation, they see a goal, and they hang on until that goal is reached,’’ Ashley said. “Then they slowly start to slip away, and that’s exactly what happened.’’
About 10 days before the wedding, Patty became very sick. Ashley realized she needed a plan B if her mom couldn't attend the wedding. Patty could watch via Skype, or they would make a video for her to watch in her hospital room later. Ashley had already determined that the Manor House in Mason, Ohio, the site of her wedding and reception, had wireless Internet, and so did her mother’s hospital room. She tested the Skype setup a day before at the rehearsal just in case.
On the morning of the wedding, Patty was taken to the VITAS Inpatient Hospice Unit at Drake Center in Cincinnati because her conditioned had worsened, a turn of events Ashley would not learn until the reception. Though Patty could not attend, the Skype setup on the altar gave her the best view in the house.
Ashley did her best to deal with the euphoria of the moment along with the sadness of her mother’s situation. The familiar, smiling face on the computer screen helped ease her emotions.
“I had a little freakout moment right before I walked down the aisle,’’ Ashley said. “I started crying, and I just told myself that if I could just get down the aisle and see Beau and see her, I would be OK.’’
“When I first found that day that her mom wasn’t going to be there, I already felt emotional about it just thinking about what it would be like if my mom hadn’t made it to my wedding,’’ said Andrea Boettcher, Ashley’s friend and the wedding photographer. “I really tried to put it aside and not think about it too much, but when Ashley came down the aisle, her face and her looking at her mom on Skype, it was very emotional.’’
During the ceremony, Ashley waved at her mother, who waved back with a big smile on her face.
“I was really worried for her, but Ashley really pulled through,’’ Beau said. “She was able to see her mom, and I think that really comforted her knowing that her mom was able to witness the wedding even though she wasn’t there in person. That just made me feel better knowing that Ashley was able to quote-unquote ‘have her mother there.’’’
“It was beautiful and sad, but everybody had a smile on their face even if they were crying,’’ Boettcher said. “It was the most moving ceremony I’ve ever been to.’’
At the reception, the laptop sat right next to the bar. Beau even brought an extra computer just in case there were any problems with the first one. Guests were able to slip on the headphones and talk with Patty during the party.
“For our first dance, we had someone holding (the screen) up so that she could see everything,’’ Ashley said. “She just kept saying that she was so happy for us, and she loved us.’’
“It was a blessing,’’ Beau said. “Ashley’s mom was smiling the entire time. I hadn’t seen her that happy in months. It was amazing.’’
Davisson was in good spirits despite her condition, although she told Ashley she was getting a little dizzy, possibly from the motion of the cameras.
“She got worn out pretty fast, but she could not have been happier,’’ Ashley said.
The day after the wedding, the newlyweds visited Patty in her room to take some pictures with Ashley in her wedding dress and Beau in his tuxedo. A day later, the mother of four began slipping in and out of a coma. Just over two weeks later, she passed away.
““We kind of feel like she was waiting to see that affairs were taken care of," Beau said, "and she knew that her kids were going to be in good hands.’’