I know first hand the day to day struggle of caring for a loved one with declining memory. My father came to live with our family back in 2010 after he had been afflicted with dementia, and those were some of the most stressful, but also some of the most joyful and bittersweet times of my life. You never knew what each day would bring, and it taught us alot about flexibility and sacrifice.
There’s a wonderful story in People.com about Michael and Linda Joyce. Alzheimer’s disease has taken Michael memory. But there’s one thing he’s remembered after all these years: he’s head over heels in love with his wife, Linda.
68 year old Michael was diagnosed with the illness in 2010, and has forgotten that he and Linda married in 1984. So, he proposed to his wife again — and the New Zealand couple wed a second time near a picturesque lake in their Frankton neighborhood.
“He got up, but he looked different. He looked quite anxious, like he was trying to tell me something. I jumped up and I held his hand and I said, ‘What’s wrong, darling? What are you trying to say?’ ” Linda tells PEOPLE, noting that Michael’s ability to speak is very limited. “He said, ‘Will you marry me?’ I was absolutely blown away … I said, ‘Of course!’ and his eyes filled up and he held me.”
Last Saturday, they renewed their vows in front of their loved ones in an emotional ceremony.. “When I had to repeat my vows, I was very emotional and my voice broke,” she tells PEOPLE. “I said I was going to love and honor him through sickness and through health, ’til death do us part — and that’s the part that choked me up.” Linda says, “I was overjoyed, overwhelmed and very ecstatic. I really was. I was elated,” she says. “Michael was completely relaxed and happy.”
She says, “It’s been very difficult physically and emotionally. You’ve always had this partner that you shared everything with. Decision making … I don’t have that with Michael. I have to make all the decisions for both of us because he doesn’t have the ability to communicate verbally. There’s no conversations between us anymore,” she tells PEOPLE.
She adds: “If I lost him I’d be absolutely, totally devastated. He’s my world.”
This story makes us all reassess what love is truly all about. God bless you Linda for your sacrifice and all the wonderful care you show your husband. We should all hope to be so blessed.