Wedding To Fulfill Fiance's Dying Wish

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Cliff Armer's body has been ravaged by diabetes all his life. He has lost part of one leg, is legally blind and requires kidney dialysis three days a week.

But he's happy.

He's in love, and soon to be married.

Doctors have told Armer, the 33-year-old son of Payson Constable Eddie Armer, that he has one to six months left to live. He's going to spend that time with fiancee Rose Coffin, the woman he's loved for five years.

They are to be married at 3 p.m. June 9 in Mesa, Ariz. at the home of Armer's aunt, Jane Warden.

Warden said when she heard the two were engaged, she sobbed. But the wedding wasn't too big a surprise, since she helped make it happen.

"I called him one day and we talked about life and death and everything else, and I asked what makes him sad," Warden said. "He said not a lot of things do, but he does have one regret: not ever giving Rose a decent wedding. I told him, 'Well, we can fix that.'"

The next week, Jane sat down with Rose over breakfast and talked about the possibility of a wedding. It wasn't difficult to convince Coffin.

"He's just a real special guy and so easy to love," Coffin said. "He would do anything for anybody. We're very excited about the wedding."

Marrying Coffin is literally Cliff's dying wish.

"He told me that wish, and then he said, 'I've loved you all these years, Rose.' That's as far as he got before he started crying and I said, 'yes.'"

Armer and Coffin met five years ago when she was his nurse at Desert Samaritan Care Center in Mesa.

"He was young and didn't want to be in a hospital," Coffin said. "He just got more and more down and didn't even want to try anymore. But I worked with him and taught him how to walk again so he would be well enough to leave the hospital."

That's the fighting spirit Pam Couch, Constable Armer's secretary, has always recognized in Cliff.

"That boy has had nothing but struggles the last few years, but you'll never catch him whining about it," Couch said. "He lives every day to its fullest and has accepted his disability with grace."

Coffin said she does not see Armer as sick and dying, but as a man with a sweet heart. Warden agreed, and said Armer got that quality from his father, Constable Armer.

"Eddie has done so much volunteer work for Payson," Warden said. "He plays guitar for the old folks home, he's Santa Claus at Christmas. He loves that town so much, that he's always trying to pay it back."

Warden said the Armer family could use help dealing with Cliff's medical and wedding expenses, and asked that any contributions be made to Cliff Armer, c/o Bank of America, account No. 004675652711.

"Whatever doesn't go toward the wedding will go toward the funeral," Warden said. "But we're all just thinking about the wedding. It will be a beautiful thing."

Cliff will be in a wheelchair, but it won't put a damper on the occasion, Coffin said.

"I love him the way he is, and he loves me," she said.

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