A Letter for Marie
South African born Marie has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Her husband, Tom, speaks of their 33-years together and of the good times still to come.
1970 was a big year for both of us. I met you in Johannesburg in January of that year. Thinking back to those days I clearly recall what attracted me. The dark flashing eyes, the confident tilt of the head, the sharp humour and the fierce independence blended with a gentle feminine touch. By September we were married. Some thought at the time we were a bit hasty.
33 years later I guess we can say that we did get it right. A year later we were on our way to Australia. You were prepared to leave the comfort of your family and friends in South Africa to start a new life in my homeland and you did so with barely a backward glance. You have never been short of courage or determination.
We started our own family in 1973. Shelley was our first born, a beautiful daughter who is now a secondary teacher and well on her way to getting her Masters. She has your single-minded determination and in times of trouble shows that she has no lack of courage. Paul was born in 1975 on our fifth wedding anniversary. Who would have thought that that shy, awkward little boy would become the family comedian and a lover of everything that goes fast, particularly if it’s motorized. Then in 1977, along came Lee. Happy go lucky Lee who’s life was one long party for the first 20 something years. But he is about to get married and settle into what most people would see as a relatively normal lifestyle and although he has lived in Queensland for the past eight years he is as close to us now as our Shelley and Paul.
When all three were at school you decided on a new career and returned to study so that you could become a teacher. Again your dedication and commitment placed you in the elite top one percent in all your results. A fulfilling 12 year teaching career followed. The years rolled by quickly and despite some family tragedies we can look back on those golden years with great pleasure and some satisfaction.
During 2002 we both knew something was not quite right with your health. By January 2003 we had our answer, Alzheimer’s. At age 55 you were far too young to have this terrible thing happen to you. Yet again you faced your situation with great courage and strength and we are getting on with our lives as if there has been nothing more than a small bump in the road. I have written you this letter as a permanent reminder of the wonderful 33 years behind us and as a promise of more good times to come in the years ahead.