“My philosophy is each day, I want to give Maureen the best day she can have,” Jim said.

Just in case you think true love is dead, think again.

In a real-life story straight out of The Notebook, one husband is making sure that his wife (who suffers from dementia) is living her best life. Each and every day.

And if this doesn’t make the most skeptical among us believe in the power of love, nothing will.

All in the Name of Love

It’s been 55 years since Jim and Maureen of Sydney, Australia said “I Do.” Their love story began on Queenscliff Beach, the site of their first date decades ago.

It’s a beach they still frequent multiple times a week.

“Our first date was to go to Queenscliff Beach, that’s the first time I held Maureen’s hand,” Jim told the Manly Observer. “And every day when I come to the beach, we walk down to Queenscliff and I remind her that this is where we first held hands.”

“But she doesn’t understand,” he added, tears in his eyes.

Sadly, four years ago, Maureen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. In 2021, during a stint in the hospital, doctors told Jim that his wife had very little time left.

Despite the fact that Maureen no longer remembered much of their life together, Jim decided then and there to make it his mission to make every day they had left count.

He’s held onto that promise. For three years…and counting.

Husband’s Sweet Gesture for Wife With Dementia

“My philosophy is each day, I want to give Maureen the best day she can have. That statement stems from when she came out of the hospital, and each day could have been her last,” Jim said.

Part of that includes taking Maureen for a lunch date and a stroll along their favorite beach at least three days a week.

It was during their walks that Jim noticed something heartbreaking. Maureen would attempt to engage passersby, often reaching out to try to touch their hands. Almost always, she was ignored.

Jim knew, after speaking to a friend whose father had dementia, that this kind of physical connection was a way for Maureen to communicate with folks around her.

“He was telling me that, right at the end, the last days with his dad, they [communicate] by signals of squeezing hands and so on, so taking in a whole lot more than they realised,” Jim explained.

Jim wanted to prove to his wife that while she may not remember who she is, she isn’t forgotten. He enlisted the help of a local design and print studio, CRE8withJAZ.

He had a t-shirt custom-made with the words, “My beautiful wife has dementia. Please say “Hello” to her,” emblazoned across it.

It worked.

Spreading a Message About People With Dementia

Once Jim started wearing the shirt on their dates, people began to take notice of Maureen.

In fact, the results were overwhelming.

“What surprised me initially was that so many people were foreign tourists from all over the world,” he said. 

And just by taking a moment or two to acknowledge the couple has made a real impact in their lives.

“I’d really like to thank all the people that have stopped by and had a chat to Maureen, they really brighten her day, which brightens mine.”

Jim hopes sharing his story will spread an important message about people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“[They] are living people and should be treated that way.”

He added that being a caregiver has given him a whole new perspective on the importance of seeing and validating the people around us.

“I’m no expert, but as I walk along Manly Beach, I’ve been doing it for four years, I noticed a lot of people with some sort of handicap or were walking with a carer that looked lonely. I’ll go up to them and say hello, to have a chat to them and I think more people should do that and just notice the people around them.”

The Love of a Lifetime

It’s obvious that when Jim vowed to love, honor, and cherish Maureen through sickness and in health five decades ago, he meant it.

As difficult and heartbreaking as it is to watch the person we’ve spent a lifetime loving slowly slip away, it is heartening to know that love still finds its way.

And their grandson, Noah, confirms it. In a comment on social media, he wrote:

“That’s my beautiful grandparents! I have never seen someone Iove another person as much as these two love each other and I hope I can take care of someone the way my Poppy does one day.”

It’s stories like these that fuel the hopeless romantic in us. But they also remind us of just how precious love is.

The reality is that none of us know how much time we have with the ones we love. And while we may not be able to control time or what life throws at us, we can do our best to make the most of every single minute.