March 27, 2018, was a quintessential warm Californian spring day. It was
72 degrees, clear skies, and love was in the air. At least it was in Torrance,
California. Longtime resident and retired Los Angeles County firefighter,
Gregory Meliota, 67, and fiancé Ranata Bryant, 64, were about to
make the ultimate commitment. They were getting married. This day was
a long time in the making. Meeting on Yahoo Personals, the now obsolete
online dating service 15 years ago, they became engaged in 2016. “It’s
almost like he’s my soul mate. We just get along,” Ranata
explained to the
Daily Breeze. She adds “The entire time we’ve been together we’ve
had maybe two fights, if you even want to call them that. … We
usually see eye-to-eye on almost everything.”
The couple never got around to a setting a date. But recently were confronted
with news that made the situation more urgent. In December 2017, Gregory
was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer. This was not Gregory’s
first bout with cancer, specifically pancreatic. In 2013 half of his pancreas
was removed. Initially, after re-diagnosis, Gregory had undergone chemotherapy,
but had to discontinue it because of complications due to his weakened
heart. Due to this stoppage, on March 24th Gregory transitioned to hospice care.
Faced with these uncertainties, Gregory’s final wish was a simple
one: marry his sweetheart in their Torrance home. While Gregory was in
the in the charge of Torrance Memorial Hospice, his wishes did not fall
on deaf ears. Hospice employees started working immediately to make Gregory’s
wish a reality. Lauren Loether, a social worker, secured an online marriage
license through the county clerk. Lauren asked Dave Peters, the Hospice
Chaplin, if he would perform the ceremony. Chaplin Peters agreed, and
officiated the small ceremony. Other employees, including Marie Herbrandson,
provided flowers for their home to make the nuptials more festive.
The wedding ceremony was a simple one, but hit all of the right notes.
With an exchange of rings and a kiss, they were married. A small gathering
of friends, family, and some of Gregory’s fellow firefighter were
in attendance to bear witness to the occasion. The couple planned to hold
a larger ceremony at a later date to accommodate all of their friends
and family that were not present the first time around.
Through all of this, Gregory’s spirits have remained positive. “I
intend to make a full recovery,” Gregory told the
Daily Breeze. Gregory called his oxygen tank a “minor inconvenience.” He
expressed his desire to start physical therapy soon. He is a fighter in
every sense of the word. This attitude is one he learned as a firefighter.
He never backed down from the challenge before him, but stared it square
in its face. Gregory remained in Hospice care until May 19. Feeling much
better he has opted to pursue additional treatments for his cancer. And
he is not on this journey alone. “I haven’t quite accepted
that this is the end. I just keep hope alive that somehow he’ll
get through this,” said Renata to the
Daily Breeze. One thing is for certain, he has his beloved by his side whatever may come.
For more information about the Torrance Memorial Hospice program, please