True love isn’t just in the movies. Take it from this New Zealand couple, whose romance is like one straight out of The Notebook.
Michael Joyce, 68, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and his wife Linda, 64, have been married for 34 years.
Joyce was diagnosed with the disease in 2010 and suffers disorientation, mood swings and aphasia, which impairs his ability to express and understand written and spoken language.
He usually can’t remember what has happened from one day to the next. Recently, however, Joyce randomly asked his wife Linda to marry him again.
"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,” Linda said. "But of course, I just told him, 'Yes, my darling, I'd be delighted to marry you.’”
Linda decided to have their vows renewed that weekend, but was positive Joyce would forget because of his chronic memory loss.
“But then the next morning when he woke up and remembered everything and was so excited for our wedding day,” Linda said. "It was miraculous. He remembered every day for a week. It really stunned me.”
Joyce, who is in the late stages of the disease, woke up that weekend saying, “Today is the day,” Linda said.
The couple's friends, family and community rallied together to organize the vow renewal ceremony on short notice and the couple tied the knot in Hamilton Lake before 15 guests Saturday. Their first wedding was in 1984.
"In his head and in his heart, it was what he wanted to do," Linda said. "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 said they have both taken the “in sickness and health” portion of their vows very seriously.
"Back in 2003, I broke my back in a horse riding accident and Michael was there for me every single day,” Linda said. “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."