On a Tuesday in March, Faye Jones passed away in her sleep. She was the teenage girl who stole Bill Jones' heart, the mother of his children, his co-worker at Mt. Olive Pickles. For more than 55 years, she was the woman who spent hours preparing meals and filled the Jones home with the aromas of ham hocks and butter beans.
The close-knit family gathered around Bill to grieve and plan a funeral for Faye. Then, on Wednesday evening, Bill started to experience abdominal pain and was rushed to the local hospital.
On Thursday morning, as Bill was being transferred to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, his daughter-in-law, Ann, asked about Faye's funeral, which was scheduled for Friday.
Bill looked up from the stretcher, his lip quivering, "I need to be there for her," he said.
When Bill arrived at NHRMC, however, doctors determined that he needed gall bladder surgery. Attending a funeral in Mount Olive on Friday wasn't possible.
Ann was determined to find someone to videotape the service so that her father-in-law could view it later. But that wasn't acceptable to the team at NHRMC.
Faye's family and friends were traveling to Mount Olive to celebrate the life of a mother, grandmother, and caregiver. And her husband needed to be a part of it -- somehow, some way.
Carrie Cuevas, a coronary care unit nurse, suggested that Chaplain Resident Richard Aylor visit with Bill. After checking with the medical team, Richard decided to try to link Bill to the funeral virtually from his hospital bed. The idea appealed to Ann and the rest of the Joneses, so Richard worked with his Spiritual Care supervisors and Bill's 14-year-old grandson -- the most tech-savvy of the Joneses. On the day of the service, Bill watched the funeral through an iPad as his grandson held the phone at the funeral in Mount Olive.
"Though he was not physically there to touch the casket or shake hands, he was there," Ann said.
The dedication of the NHRMC staff made an impact on the Joneses as they gathered in Bill's room after his surgery.
"You don't know how grateful we are," said Darryl Little, Bill and Faye's son-in-law. "If it wasn't for them, my father-in-law wouldn't have been able to see the funeral."
Aylor and the NHRMC staff were happy to be able to help. "He said this meant the world to him," Aylor said. "This was such a sad situation, but it meant a lot to me that we were able to help him out."