Paul and Abby had that kind of marriage you read about in the most romantic novels. If you are a fan of The Notebook, then you will love this story. Their love was so strong, that even after Abby forgot who Paul was, she could still feel their connection. Paul would visit Abby every single day in the nursing home. He even sold their home so that he could move closer to them. This move was heartbreaking for Paul because it was the last place he lived where Abby knew his name. There were so many memories shared within those walls, it was nearly impossible for him to let that go. But, the idea of not being close to Abby was far more painful.
Early days of love and marriage
When Paul graduated from high school, he entered college with a determination to excel in life. He had a plan for himself, which he had set as a timeline for his life goals and achievements. everything had to follow according to that plan, and no detours were accepted. That is until he met Abby. She was the most intriguing woman he had ever met. Whereas Paul was much more analytical, Abby had this creative flare that seemed to dazzle everyone who met her. Including him.
The two of them hit it off right away, and once they started dating their feelings for each other deepened immensely. Paul found himself daydreaming about a life with Abby, but this directly contradicted his timeline. As time went on, he found it more and more difficult to ignore his heart.
So, one evening, he made a plan with all of her friends, who kept her distracted for the afternoon while he set up a romantic rooftop dinner. Their view overlooked the city. He knew she would love this because the twinkling city lights were her artistic muse. When they brought her through, she started crying immediately. They were tears of joy because somehow she knew what he had planned. After they finished eating, she started asking him probing questions about what they were doing up there. But Paul was feeling extremely nervous.
Finally, he couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room and blurted out the question, “Will you marry me?” Abby shrieked in excitement and pounced on him. She was crying even louder now. the happiness in her almost disabling her ability to answer his question. “Yes,” she cried. “1000 times yes, and times that by infinity!”
The rest of the evening was filled with laughter, good music, and a connection that only two people deeply in love can share. The proposal was a perfect and romantic start to their future together.
45 years later, Abby and Paul were still extremely happy together. The life they shared was not the easiest, but their relationship never added to the strain they endured. They shared three children, who were now grown up and had children of their own. Paul often sat and admired the family photo wall. Thinking he was so grateful he decided to divert from his life plan all those years back. Never did he expect their lives to end in a nursing home.
Abby’s memory was starting to deteriorate. Sometimes she would forget plans they had made, and this complicated things a little bit. Eventually, it started getting worse. One day, Abby called him in tears saying she couldn’t remember how to get home. This concerned Paul deeply, and he suggested they go see a doctor.
Their doctor asked Abby a few questions while writing down some notes. Eventually, they came to the conclusion that it wasn’t just general old age memory loss. He diagnosed Abby with Alzheimer’s disease. The news was like a punch in the gut for Paul, who felt like he could burst into tears. But, Abby remained calm. So calm, that she barely said a word right up until they were getting into bed. All she said was, “I will never forget our connection.”
The dreaded nursing home
As the years went by, Abby’s mind started breaking apart. At first it was general directions that confused her, but then it was a lot more. She started getting paranoid over every little thing, which made it difficult for Paul to care for her. Occasionally he caught her looking at her with an odd expression on her face. It wasn’t until later on that he realized she was starting to not recognize him. This happened sporadically, until eventually she only saw him through her Alzheimer’s glasses occasionally.
Paul’s kids decided they needed to intervene. They witnessed first hand the pain of witnessing the love of his life whither away was putting their father through. At first, they hired a nurse to lie in with them who helped with getting Abby dressed in the morning, feed her and help her relieve herself. When this proved too difficult, the nurse suggested they send to her a nursing home. The idea made Paul sick to the stomach, but he agreed. He had very little strength left himself.
Daily visits to the nursing home
Paul had one condition he needed met if he was to agree on sending Abby to a nursing home. It had to be one of a high standard to ensure she was cared for appropriately. The only one of that caliber was miles away, so he decided to sell their home of many decades. He realized the home meant nothing if Abby wasn’t living there with him. He himself moved into a retirement village down the road from the Alzheimer’s nursing home so he could walk to see Abby every day.
After a year of visiting her every day the nurses had got to know Paul quite well. They would greet him with friendly smiles, and he brought them coffee and snack to enjoy. Every day, Paul would sit in his leather recliner and read her stories of their life together. He had brought their chairs from their home so she had something familiar to sit on in the communal lounge. Funnily enough, she would always go to that particular set of chairs, even though there were many others to choose from.
The nurses would sit and listen to Paul read to Abby, with a box of tissues handy for the mushy parts. Abby had no idea who Paul was by this point. He would introduce himself as if they were meeting for the first time every day, but their connection was always there. Electrifying the air around them. One day, Paul’s favorite nurse asked him why he comes to see her if she doesn’t know who he is. Paul just smiled knowingly, and said, “the point is not that she doesn’t know who I am, but rather that I know exactly who she is.”