When father-of-the-bride Don Fields walks the silver-slippered, snowy-veiled Eva Fields down the long aisle at Pioneer Congregational Church as planned on Sunday, a remarkable story of love will unfold.
Love for, and between, the bride and groom.
Love from, and among, the joined families and gathered friends.
And for a cadre of health care workers attending the wedding at the downtown Sacramento church, the deepest of appreciation for their dedication in getting Fields back on his feet.
It's a miracle, the family says, that the 68-year-old Fields - struck by a devastating hemorrhagic stroke three years ago - has progressed to the point where he can move down the aisle with a walker, toast the young couple and dance with his daughter at the wedding.
"It's the most amazing thing," Eva Fields, 27, said. "His rehab workers have been lifesavers. We have the most wonderful group of people motivating Dad."
A 20-year political consultant with a prestigious client list that included Facebook, Chevron and Southern Pacific Railroad, Fields was ubiquitous in state Capitol circles. He ran RF Communications; his specialty was rallying reporters to his clients' causes.
Fields was at work on a Sunday in 2010 when a fierce and sudden pain gripped the back of his head. He called 911.
His wife, Ginger Rutland, an associate editor on The Bee's editorial board, was summoned to the hospital to find her husband suffering an extraordinarily severe headache. But, she said, he was alert, lucid, and able to recite for doctors the year and resident-in-chief of the White House.
Rutland, who had just finished chemotherapy for breast cancer that Friday and was scheduled to begin radiation on Monday, was puzzled.
How bad could it be? Her husband recognized her. His speech was fine.
Wait, the doctors said. They wanted to see what this stroke will lead to. Bleeding was occurring in the back of the brain - the cerebellum - and there was nothing they could do to stop it.
The more blood that hemorrhages in this type of stroke, which occurs at a rate of about one in five strokes, the more toxic it will be to the brain, they said.
Fields' speech began to slur. What he did manage to get out was nothing more than gibberish. He slipped into a coma, to be followed by several brain surgeries and then, later, by a bout of hydrocephalus, commonly known as water on the brain. Surgeons had to put a shunt in his head to drain the fluids.
Through much of this, Fields was unresponsive, even when Rutland would hold him, telling him again and again, "I love you more today than yesterday. And I will love you more tomorrow than today. Come back to us, Don."
Eva Fields, then 25, would squeeze her comatose father's hands and tell doctors, "Dad's a fighter," she said. "He's not letting go." Her father would squeeze back, but doctors attributed the movement to an involuntary spasm.
Eva Fields says she knew she had to save her father. "What we didn't realize at the time was that the doctors were having a conversation about whether it was worth keeping (Dad) alive - and they weren't including us."
The doctors studied the family, warned them how difficult life would be with Fields at home, and recommended a 24-hour-care boarding hospital.
The family refused and took him home, Eva Fields recalled. Doctors said to keep him in bed, sending an end-of-life-care nurse to the Curtis Park home.
The nurse looked at the patient and at Eva Fields, who was soon to decide to become her father's primary caregiver. Though she was all of about 100 pounds, he saw her strength and willingness to feed her father through a tube, to take care of his toilet needs, she said, and to deal with what was then his transient angry moods.
Disregarding orders to provide palliative care for a dying man, the nurse instead firmly advised Eva Fields to get her father up out of bed and do what she could to start a course of rehabilitation, she said.
Rutland somberly wrote a eulogy to her husband and shared it with her daughter, who became only more determined to save her father's life, she said.
Today, Eva Fields makes it a point to arrange two to three hours of daily rehabilitation therapy for her father. She vowed that her dad would recover in time to give her away at her wedding - even before she met her fiancé, Brent Schwartz, and knew a wedding was forthcoming.
The tightly scheduled routine includes a morning caregiver who works with Fields until noon at the family's home.
Then there's physical rehabilitation at Sutter Health's Roseville facility, with treadmills, stationary bikes, balance balls and guided walking routines.
Fields also attends Cosumnes River College for an adaptive physical rehabilitation class, which brings with it a ready-made support group of other students.
And, perhaps most helpful of all, a steady stream of Sacramento State physical therapy students have stepped up to visit Fields at home, guiding him as he relearns to walk, take stairs, strengthen his arms and legs - all the time chatting cheerily, keeping the patient's spirits up.
Sacramento State student Emily Johnson agrees with Fields when he says, as he often does, "I'm a lucky man. I'm lucky to be alive."
"In my opinion, there are not many people who have such a supportive family as Don does," Johnson said. "They are making sure he's getting as much care as possible."
Fields was never supposed to walk or talk again. He still cannot swallow and has trouble with balance and strength. He tires easily after rehab workouts. He's working on speaking more clearly, encouraged by one of the Sacramento State students who told him he had too many interesting thoughts to share to shut up.
Before the stroke, Fields had explicitly and frequently told Eva Fields that if he were ever in a comatose state, he wanted the family to simply let him go.
Eva Fields could hear his instructions in her head even as she went about caring for him daily after leaving her job as an administrative assistant in the Capitol. She chose not to listen to that voice.
"This experience taught us all to love life," she said. "The doctors said this is going to be hellish, but they never said it can be a lot of fun to watch Dad get better."
Still, in the evenings, Eva Fields arranged for outings to book clubs, Internet meet-ups - anything to get her out of the house after Rutland got home from work and took over.
She met Schwartz, who works at Intel in Folsom, at a movie meet-up to see a Harry Potter film. They clicked right away. Eva Fields said she told Schwartz that if he wanted to see her, he'd have to come over to spend time with her as she cared for her father.
"I definitely see that family is important to her," Schwartz said. "And I know that she will take care of me if I need it. ... Just being together is important to her."
Eva Fields said the day her father was able to express gratitude to her was all the reward she needed for her efforts.
"I put my life on hold," she said. "When he said 'thank you,' it was from that moment on that the sky sort of opened up and it all became tolerable."
Fields has difficulty forming some words, but he was clear as day when asked how he feels about his daughter getting married. He will miss her, he said.
"Eva taught me about love. She taught me how liberating it is to give yourself over to unconditional love."
Near the end of the wedding reception, Fields will rise from his wheelchair to gently sway with Eva Fields in the traditional father-daughter dance. The song he selected? "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys."
His doctors did not foresee this love story. They never thought he'd see the day.