By Jasmine Kazlauskas
A real-life Notebook couple got hitched for the second time after the husband forgot he was married to his wife of 34 years – and popped the question again.
Alzheimer’s sufferer Michael Joyce, 68, has chronic memory loss which leaves him struggling to remember day to day events – but miraculously remembered he had re-proposed to loving wife Linda, 64, every day for a week after popping the question on January 14.
After friends, family and the community rallied together to organise a vow renewal ceremony short notice, the Scottish-born pair, who are from Glasgow but live in Auckland, New Zealand, tied the knot in Hamilton Lake in front of 15 guests on Saturday [Jan 20].
Former electrician Michael has faced an ‘uphill battle’ since being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010 and also suffers disorientation, mood swings and aphasia, which impairs his ability to express and understand written and spoken language.
Linda said she was ‘absolutely overjoyed’ and ‘incredibly touched’ when her husband of 34 years proposed for the second time – and even more amazed when he remembered the entire thing the next morning – something which rarely occurs.
Former veterinary drug representative Linda, who emigrated to New Zealand as a child, said: “Michael had gone to bed really early and he often gets quite restless during the night, so he came out a few hours later looking very dazed and confused.
“There was something just different about him and the way he was looking at me.
“I looked into his eyes and asked him what was wrong, and I could see he was trying to ask me something, but he just couldn’t quite get the words out.
“So, I held his hand and asked him ‘what is it my darling? What are you trying to tell me?’
“He looked at me with tears in his eyes and with a stutter he said, ‘will you marry me?’
“I was absolutely gobsmacked and totally speechless for a minute.
“But of course, I just told him ‘yes, my darling, I’d be delighted to marry you’.
“He then truly blew me away when he asked me ‘when?’ So, instantly I just said, ‘how about this weekend?’
“And that was that. I thought it was just one of those things to do with this Alzheimer’s.
“But then the next morning when he woke up and remembered everything and was so excited for our wedding day.
“It was miraculous. He remembered every day for a week. The Alzheimer’s had made him so forgetful, so it really stunned me.
“He is classed as being in the later stages of Alzheimer’s which makes his thinking of and even more so remembering this whole thing nothing short of miraculous.
“And one the day of our ceremony he woke up and said to me ‘today’s the day’ and he was so happy.
“In his head and in his heart, it was what he wanted to do. He wanted to get married.
“I am absolutely in awe of him. We’ve been through so much and it’s been a heartbreaking journey, but this was so special for both of us.”
Linda and Michael were both born in Glasgow, with Linda immigrating to New Zealand as a child and Michael making the big move to Auckland just before their first wedding in 1984.
The pair tied the knot once again in a ‘beautiful and heartfelt’ held at Hamilton Lake, 150kms south of the nation’s capital Auckland, and attended to by 15 close family members and friends.
The event featured music from Michael’s favourite movie Forrest Gump, which he watches every day, and the couple had their first dance to traditional Scottish bagpipes playing ‘Flower of Scotland’.
Linda and Michael’s short notice ceremony was able to go ahead with the generous help of members of the community, who donated their services for free – leaving them inundated with offers of help for their special day.
Linda said: “It was such a special day and I’ll never forget it.
“We take our wedding vows very seriously and will always be there for each other in sickness and in health.
“Back in 2003, I broke my back in a horse riding accidentally and Michael was there for me every single day.
“I thought I was going to end up in a wheelchair, but he never left my side. He gave up his job to help me. He is an absolutely selfless human being.
“He is the kindest soul God has ever put breath into. It hurts me so much to see him suffering from this cruel disease.
“I know in my heart that if the shoe was on the other foot he would be there for me always.
“It has been extremely difficult, but we get through it together.
“It is such an awful illness and I urge people that if people think anything is a little amiss or if someone is acting out of character, to go get checked out straight away.
“Whenever I look at him my heart just feels full. I feel so lucky to be married to such an amazing man.
“We were just meant to be. We are devoted to each other forever and I’ll love him until the end of time. Love truly conquers all.”