The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 30, 2013

S.D. woman marries at hospital to give mother her dying wish

Delores Vastenhout of Leota, Minn., died one day after her daughter married

SIOUX FALLS — Rather than fulfill her own dream for a January wedding in Mexico, a South Dakota woman held it at a hospital instead to make her dying mother's wish come true.

Delores Vastenhout, 58, of Leota, Minn., died Friday at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, four days after one of her daughters, Nicole, married her sweetheart, Ken Decker of Yankton, in the hospital's packed chapel. The couple had planned to tie the knot Jan. 11 at a Mexican resort.

"We knew there were two things my mom really wanted this year," Christy Menning, of Hartford, said Monday. "One was to see my sister get married and the second was to have a family Christmas."

On Christmas Eve, which was the day after the wedding, the family brought all the gifts to Vastenhout's hospital room, decorated it for the holiday and celebrated what would be their last Christmas together.

Menning said her mother, though weak and in a lot of pain, was able to take part.

"She wanted to see them open their Christmas presents one more time," Menning said of her two children, who were her mother's only grandchildren. "She wanted to be there for her family, so she would never give up."

On Monday, she was helping to plan the funeral, which was to take place Tuesday in Leota.

"People need to realize that time is valuable and they should hold their loved ones close while they still can," Menning said.

KSFY-TV first reported the story.

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