Fairview Nursing Home celebrates the beauty of love and devotion

Renewal of wedding vows brings the home together

By Kristian Partington

Practically every day in the past two years since his wife, Brenda, moved into Fairview Nursing Home on the Western Edge of downtown Toronto, Brian Bolwer has made the four-hour walk in both directions to visit her. This is the depth of the devotion the couple shares and back in September, the team at Fairview and the residents who make their home there helped celebrate this love with a ceremony to renew their wedding vows.  

Brenda wearing white while sitting and Brian holding her hand and wearing a suit
Brenda and Brian Bolwer renewed their wedding
vows at Fairview Nursing Home in September.

It was Sept. 27, 1980 when Brian and Brenda first locked their arms and hearts in matrimony and it seemed fitting that to mark their 35th year together they would rededicate themselves to each other.

“I figured we would have a little party with the residents here so I asked Brenda to redo her vows with me and that’s how it all started,” Brian says. And what began as a simple get together snowballed into a true celebration of love and dedication that the entire home got behind.

Brenda needed a new dress, the team decided, so Nicki Butler and Charity Sande volunteered to go dress shopping on Brenda’s behalf. Brian also needed to be dressed in his finest, the food and drink needed to be fitting of such a celebration and, for such an auspicious occasion, a dignitary was sought to perform the ceremony.

When the day arrived, it was much more than Brian and Benda had ever imagined, with local Member of Provincial Parliament Cheri DiNovo officiating before the attention of their Fairview friends and family.

“To me, I feel very grateful and very happy,” Brenda says, remembering how she was pampered just the way a bride should be on her wedding day. “Everybody wanted to participate.”

For many of the team members, being a part of Brenda and Brian’s celebration was a chance to share in the beauty of genuine devotion. They see it every day when Brian makes his long journey across the city to see his wife.

“I’ve only been working in long-term care for four years now but I’ve never been able to experience something like this,” says recreation team member Katie Larsh. “It was really special to be a part of their day.”

“No matter what,” says recreation director Julie Music, “love has no boundaries,” “She's in here, he’s there, and they had the desire to do this and everybody got so excited – there was a buzz in the community.”

After the wedding, the buzz continued because, as Julie says, “there’s something about a wedding that everyone can relate to,” and Brian and Brenda made a point of visiting everyone in the home that day, especially those who were unable to make it to the ceremony and celebration.

“There’s a lot of love here,” Brian says, and it means a lot to know that his wife lives in a community that would go to such lengths to celebrate the love they’ve shared for the past 35 years.