The advance of dementia symptoms is heartbreaking: Not only do sufferers lose independence, but the diseases behind cognitive decline wear away memories of even the closest relationships.
But at times, human connections weather dementia’s best efforts to sever them.
That’s what happened this summer when Bill Duncan, 71, proposed to the love of his life, Anne. The twist: They were already married.
The British couple met in 2001 when Bill was performing as an entertainer and magician. They married in 2007 and settled down in Aberdeen, U.K.
In 2010, Bill was diagnosed with dementia — and Anne, now 69, has been taking care of him ever since.
Bill’s condition has since worsened, and he currently struggles to speak.
That is why Anne was so struck by his recent request to marry her and spend the rest of his life with her. Thinking that Anne was only his girlfriend, Bill proposed to her repeatedly for several days in a row.
Anne decided not only to accept his proposal, but she staged a whole wedding ceremony in the garden of their home.
Her friends helped decorate and make a wedding cake. For Anne, it represented a renewal of the couple’s vows; for Bill, it was a whole new marriage.
“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,” Anne, who runs a monthly disco for people with dementia and their loved ones, told The Independent.
“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 continued, “Bill is a wonderful man and has always brought joy to other people’s lives throughout his career as an entertainer, and he’ll never stop bringing joy to mine.”