He woke her in the middle of the night. “Will you marry me,” he asked. “Of course I will, darling,” she replied, a bit saddened.
Truth was, Michael and Linda Joyce had been married for 34 years, but Michael is battling Alzheimer’s and he’d forgotten.
“You don’t say, oh, we’re already married,” Linda, 64, explained. “So, I said, of course I will, thinking he might not remember.”
The next morning, she was shocked when Michael, 68, said: “So, when are we doing this?”
“I couldn’t believe it,” Linda said. “He then grabbed my hand looking for a ring and I asked him if he was still gonna put a ring on it.”
Linda decided it would be a good chance – and maybe their last – to renew their wedding vows.
So on Monday, she posted on community website Neighbourly, asking if anyone could help her find a celebrant for Saturday.
She was inundated with offers – all free.
Photographer Desmond Downs took photos and video for the couple, while other offers came in from celebrants and even a hairdresser.
Celebrant Gareth Duncan said his wife alerted him to the post and he offered his services straight away.
“I mean, what a lovely story – the story of love, patience and commitment,” he said. “We had quite an emotional little connection to the thread of the story and were simply just another couple who helped them out.”
Michael and Linda said their vows on Saturday afternoon at Hamilton Lake among a handful of friends. They have no children and their extended family live in Scotland.
“We’re it, eh, darling? Just you and me, baby,” Linda said to Michael.
The Alzheimer’s means Michael can rarely put together full sentences, so his vows were read by the celebrant.
The couple celebrated with kisses and hugs to the background music of Flower of Scotland, played by bagpipe.
Then there were bubbles, cake and pizza.
Michael and Linda first married on March 17, 1984, in New Plymouth after meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, around 40 years ago.
Linda’s cousin said she had to meet Michael, an electrician in the neighbourhood.
“She said, you’re gonna marry Mic Joyce. She was getting him over to fix her stove and it wasn’t even broken!
“I know it’s cheesy, but it was definitely love at first sight,” Linda said.
The couple eventually settled in New Zealand.
Linda said on the morning of the wedding, Michael opened his eyes and said, “Today’s the day.”
“There’s been a lot of sadness and a lot of frustration, and despite all the fogginess, today has been pure joy,” Linda said.