For one couple, a stranger’s kindness in hospital made the difference

For one couple, a stranger’s kindness in hospital made the difference

Dolores and Joseph Daly in the last photo they ever took together on Sept. 1. The couple celebrated their 39th anniversary in the hospital on Oct. 24, the day before Joe’s death.

WOONSOCKET – For Dolores Daly of Wood Avenue, Oct. 24 was a long day.

The previous morning, her husband, Joseph, had been admitted to Landmark Medical Center with dangerously low blood sugar. As the day progressed and hospital staff took more blood samples from Joe’s arm, it became clear the prognosis wasn’t good.

“It was a very hard day,” she recalled.

As it happened, it was also their anniversary. The couple, who had met through friends, had been married 39 years that Thursday. Daly mentioned this to staff members as she sat with her husband, knowing they would probably never have a chance to celebrate.

Then, a few hours later, someone told her to look around.

“I turned around and there was a beautiful bouquet of red roses with a balloon that said happy anniversary and an anniversary cake for two people,” she said.

Daly and her husband were overwhelmed with the gift. At the time, she said, they didn’t even know who had sent it, but enjoyed a few hours sitting with their flowers and cake as staff members gathered around them in the ICU. For Joe, it was a chance to see his wife with a smile on her face before he died.

“He was so happy to see me holding flowers,” she said. “It just made him smile, and that was the last day we ever talked.”

The next day, Joe died at the age of 95. After his death, Daly began making inquiries with friends at the hospital, trying to find out who was behind their anniversary gift. Eventually, her search led her to Kerrie Groleau, a longtime Landmark employee who was on duty in the hospital’s lab that day. Groleau learned of the anniversary while doing Joe’s blood work, and decided she needed to do something for the couple when she went out on her break later that day.

“When I had met them and seeing what they were going through, I was really inspired at the fact that she just never left his side,” Groleau said. “My heart just went out to her, and she touched me in some way where I felt strongly to do what I did, to give her that five minutes of just something good.”

For Daly, the weeks since Joe’s death have been difficult. A World War II veteran who worked as a delivery driver until he was 90 years old, her husband, she said, was never sick until a few years ago. The marriage was the second for them both, and she recalled fondly how he doted on her grandchildren, telling them stories as if they were his own.

But over the past month, she’s also been able to remember celebrating their anniversary in the hospital, and that memory, she said, has helped ease some of the pain. Knowing that a stranger helped them enjoy their final few hours together, she said, has meant everything.

“It stays with me. I sit here every day and I remember him smiling at me because I was holding those roses. And it happened in the last few hours that we ever saw each other,” she said.

For Groleau, the knowledge that her gift had made an impact moves her to tears. In the years she’s worked at the hospital, she said, she’s always tried to do small things to encourage her patients. Seeing the couple celebrate their anniversary, she said, made it all worth it. She said she wants Daly to know that she thinks about the couple often.

Kerrie Groleau, the phlebotomist at Landmark Medical Center who helped Dolores and Joseph Daly celebrate their wedding anniversary.


Beautiful love story made even more beautiful by the kindness of a stranger, no stranger to what patients go through each day. There is a special place in Heaven for people like Ms Groleau who go above and beyond their daily work.
So sorry for your loss Mrs Daly, and I pray your Holidays are forever special with thoughts of Joe. Bless you.