'Connected hearts': Man with Alzheimer’s forgets he's married, proposes wife again
She said yes for the second time and married him in front of friends and family
For Peter Marshall, 56, every day is a new day. Suffering with the early onset of Alzheimer's, the Connecticut man pretty much restarts his life at the start of each day. But his love for his wife hasn't changed. despite forgetting who she is every day, even forgetting that they actually married, he proposed to her for a second time. And she said yes!
Marshall first married Lisa on 13 August 2009 in a beach wedding in Turks and Caicos. They lived several years happily by each other's side, but in 2017, Marshall began suffering from problems with his memory. Even though he lost most of his memories, he just knew Lisa remained his "favorite person". He proposed to her after seeing a wedding scene on TV earlier this year.
In April 2021, the couple renewed their vows in front of friends and family. Lisa told NBC News New York at the time, "He doesn't know that I'm his wife. I'm just his favorite person. I'm the luckiest girl in the world. I get to do it twice. It was so perfect. I couldn't have dreamt for a better day."
A long-distance love story
When they were living in Pensylvania, the couple lived opposite one another in the same neighborhood for years. After they get divorced, their relationship became romantic in 2001. Peter then moved to Connecticut for work and the couple dated long-distance for eight years before deciding to get married in 2009 and live together. Lisa's daughter, Sarah Brehant, who is a wedding planner, took to Facebook to write a post dedicated to her stepdad in which she recounted their times together.
"My mom + Peter drove from CT to PA back and forth on weekends for nine years, allowing their children to finish school where we were happy. They were in a NINE-year long-distance relationship," she wrote, adding, "Finally able to live together after a long, nine-year wait, he welcomed me into their home with open arms even though it wasn't ideal."
In 2017, Peter became increasingly forgetful and had difficulties remembering words. A year later, a neurologist diagnosed him with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. "When Peter got diagnosed, he started telling me he loved me every chance he could. I knew he wanted to make sure I knew before he couldn't tell me anymore. He'd say it every chance he could get while he still could, every time we saw each other," Sarah wrote.
Lisa stood by his side despite the fact that he constantly forgot she was his wife. He always remembered she is his "favorite person", because their "hearts are connected". By 2020, Lisa was forced to quit her own job to become a full-time carer to her husband. She told the Washington Post, "It's been devastating, but I've done my best to stay positive and focus on one day at a time. My mantra has always been to have no regrets."
Earlier this year Lisa said she was with Peter when a wedding scene came on TV. That's when he popped the question — he pointed to the screen and said, "Let's do it". She explained, "I said, "Do what?" And he pointed to the TV, to the scene of this wedding and I said, "Do you wanna get married?"
"He said yes and had this huge grin on his face. He doesn't know that I'm his wife," she said. But come the next day and Peter forgot about the suggestion. But Lisa wanted to do it and she said, "I started thinking, 'maybe we really ought to do this'."
The next day, Peter forgot once again. Sarah then took matters into her own hands and contacted several vendors. They offered their services for free. The couple renewed their vows in front of a crowd of friends and family, with Lisa reportedly called the day "so magical". During their first dance, Lisa said her husband whispered, "Thank you for staying." She said, "There wasn't a dry eye, and I was over the moon. I hadn't seen Peter that happy in a long time."
Peter's condition has, unfortunately, deteriorated since their second wedding. He now needs constant supervision and is unable to perform everyday tasks like making the bed. Lisa now runs the Facebook blog Oh Hello Alzheimer's about their experience to help her cope with the challenges of her husband's fading memory.