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Inspired Life

Husband with Alzheimer’s forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. He proposed, and they married again.

By Allison Klein

January 25, 2018 at 9:25 AM

Michael Joyce’s memory, and some of his speech have been snatched by Alzheimer’s. The disease is so advanced that he forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. But he is in love with her, and he is also an honorable man, so he proposed to her on a recent morning. She said yes.

“You don’t say, ‘Oh, we’re already married,’” Linda Joyce, 64, told the New Zealand news site Stuff. “So, I said, ‘Of course I will,’ thinking he might not remember.”

But the next morning, Michael Joyce, 68, woke up and asked her, “So, when are we doing this?” according to Stuff.

Linda Joyce, who lives with her husband in Frankton, New Zealand, turned to her neighborhood community website Neighbourly and asked if anyone would be willing to marry them over the weekend. She began her query, “Amidst the often sad and frustrating times living with Alzheimer’s … there is joy!”

“My adored Hubby of 38 years suffers from Alzheimer’s/Disphasia. Two nights ago, out of the blue, with tear-filled eyes, he asked me to marry him!” she wrote.

She continued: “Michael had clearly forgotten we were already married but I absolutely went along with him and said I would be delighted to be his wife. In spite of his confused mind, he obviously knows and feels this is something he really wants to do … to Michael it will be our Wedding Ceremony and to our friends and myself, a truly precious memorable occasion.”

Joyce asked if there was anyone in the community who would say a few words and marry them. People responded enthusiastically offering to help officiate, and local photographer Desmond Downs volunteered to be the wedding photographer. He documented the experience on his blog with a post he titled, A special wedding shoot.

“I couldn’t resist offering to photograph this special occasion for free, just for the privilege of being there,” Downs wrote.

Related: [This sick woman’s friends have kept their promise to visit her every weekday — for 21 years and counting]

On their wedding morning, Linda Joyce said she wasn’t sure he would remember, but he woke up and told his betrothed, “Today’s the day,” she told Stuff.

The beaming couple, originally from Scotland, exchanged vows Saturday at a scenic lake near their home as friends looked on and ducks waddled by in the background. When the ceremony was over, bagpipes began to play a melancholy tune, and the newlyweds danced.

“There’s been a lot of sadness and a lot of frustration,” Linda Joyce said. “And despite all the fogginess, today has been pure joy.”

Read more: 

When this groom got married, he also exchanged vows with the bride’s sister. Here’s why

She wanted her dying dad to walk her down the aisle — so she moved the wedding to the hospital


Allison Klein has been a reporter at The Washington Post since 2004, with a hiatus from 2013 to 2017. She anchors the Inspired Life blog, writing about surprising or unusual tales of humanity. She spent many years covering crime, policing and police policy. Previously, she worked at the Baltimore Sun and the Miami Herald.

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Inspired Life

Husband with Alzheimer’s forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. He proposed, and they married again.

By Allison Klein

January 25, 2018 at 9:25 AM

Michael Joyce’s memory, and some of his speech have been snatched by Alzheimer’s. The disease is so advanced that he forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. But he is in love with her, and he is also an honorable man, so he proposed to her on a recent morning. She said yes.

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