Toby Freeman wasn't planning to propose to his girlfriend, Angi Grippo, until October, but when her grandparents' health declined, he moved it up.
"It was always a dream of hers to get married in front of her grandparents, but she didn't feel like with their health conditions that would happen," Freeman told ABC News. "So I figured I'd propose in front of her grandparents so they could be there for that, if for some reason they wouldn't be able to attend."
Doris DeFazio, 85, was diagnosed last year with stage-four lung cancer. The family told ABC News that her 92-year-old husband, Cosmo, is also in declining health.
The DeFazios asked the extended family to gather at their home in Florida in May. Freeman decided that was a good time to propose.
He enlisted Grippo's 11-year-old niece, Aslyn, to help with the surprise. While she was performing a song for the family, Freeman got on one knee behind Grippo.
"I wanted to record [my niece] singing the song and as soon as I did, Toby's tapping me," Grippo recalled.
She said yes, and then she held her grandparents tightly.
"Just to have my grandparents there and my whole family there, it was wonderful," she said.
The wedding will be in May 2018.
"When I told my grandpa the date over the phone, I said, 'I really wish you could come,'" she said. "[He said], 'Maybe if I'm still around by then.' I was like, 'Ahhh!"
The pair's ideal honeymoon is inspired by her grandfather, a World War II veteran. They'd like to retrace his steps landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy.
Man pops the question early so girlfriend's dying grandparents can witness it
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