A dementia diagnosis brings about bittersweet change to a marriage relationship as one partner assumes the role of caregiver while the other partner slowly forgets the memories of their life together.
Anne Duncan, 69, has been caring for her husband, Bill Duncan, since his dementia diagnosis in 2010, Birmingham Live reported.
Over the years, Bill’s health has declined to a point where he can scarcely speak or remember. But it turns out that Bill, 71, is still smitten with his wife and asked her, once again, for her hand in marriage.
“Something wonderful happened recently. My wonderful husband of 12 years, Bill, told me that he wanted to marry me,” Anne wrote in a Facebook post shared by Love What Matters.
“Now, as most of you reading this will know, Bill has been living with dementia for 9 years. For the past year or so Bill has been unaware of our relationship, and no longer knows my name.”
Anne said that the pair had recently attended a family wedding together, and the experience may have stirred up something inside Bill’s heart.
“So, when Bill told me that he, ‘Really REALLY liked me and wanted to be with me forever’ – I was really touched. Bill doesn’t use many words now and finds it hard to express himself, but I got lots of kisses and hugs as I accepted his ‘proposal’. It was so lovely. Another memory to treasure,” she wrote.
Anne knew it was very likely that Bill would forget all about the marriage proposal and, at first, made no actual wedding plans.
But Bill surprised her, as he spent the remainder of the week asking about their wedding day.
“What I wasn’t prepared for was that he’d remember the next day. He wanted to know when we were getting married. This was Thursday, and as I was having my ’close girlfriends’ round on the Saturday, I suggested that was a good day,” Anne wrote.
So Anne, with the help of her daughter and close friends, put together a lovely backyard wedding in the couple’s Scotland backyard.
At her daughter’s suggestion, Anne even went out and bought a dress, figuring she would probably be bringing the item back, unworn.
But Bill remembered and insisted on following through with their wedding vows.
“The next day, with beautiful homemade bunting made by Lynne the day before, a beautiful flower arrangement made by Eva, perfect flowers from Susan for my bouquet, stunning weather all day, and my wonderful family around me, Bill and I got ‘married’ again,” Anne wrote.
“It was the most wonderful day,” she wrote, including a slew of beautiful photos of their big day.
“We are so blessed to be supported by family and close friends who love us both and do everything they can to help Bill and I enjoy our lives together.”
“I never dreamt we would ever renew our vows, but we really did. And it was wonderful. Bill was wonderful,” Anne wrote.
After they renewed their vows, the sweet couple cut their wedding cake, posed for photos and wore huge smiles on their faces.
“And what is even more amazing is that 2 weeks later Bill still thinks he’s just married his new girlfriend and it makes him very happy,” Anne wrote.
Anne told BirminghamLive that while adjusting to their new normal has been difficult since Bill’s diagnosis, the pair manages to find ways to enjoy life together.
“It can be difficult adjusting to life with dementia for both the sufferer and their partner, and we’re always looking for ways to still enjoy ourselves,” she said.
Dancing, something the couple had always enjoyed, still proves to be the best medicine.
“We attended a friend’s party last year, and as Bill and I took to the dance floor, it was like all of our troubles melted away,” she said. “Dancing together helped us forget dementia for that moment, and it was like my old husband was back in my arms – it was beautiful.”
Anne hopes her story will bring a bit of comfort and encouragement to those in similar situations.
“Please take from this that you can never assume that just because someone has advanced dementia with all the difficulties that presents, that they can’t still surprise you in the most unlikely ways. Bill has made me very happy yet again,” she wrote.
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