Now Or Never

'I tell Shirley at least 10 or 12 times that I love her. As soon as I tell her she's forgotten.'

Stan and Shirley Fryer have been married for 69 years, but for the last 16 years Shirley has been living with Alzheimer's. Stan has been with her every step of the way and doing everything he can to keep her memory of who he is, and who she is, alive.
Shirley and Stan Fryer were married for 69 years. Shirley had been living with Alzheimer's for the past 16. Stan, as her partner and caregiver, did everything he could to keep her memories alive. (Vimeo/Arun Fryer)

Even though it happened in the 1940s, Stan Fryer has no problem remembering the night he knew he was going to marry Shirley. 

"I was the emcee for the YMCA dance on Saturday. We met and we danced all night," he recalled.

"I took her home and I knew that was the girl I was going to marry. She was so loving and easy to get along with. She had a great personality. She melted my heart." 

The White Rock, B.C. couple has been married for 69 years and while Fryer can remember that night perfectly, his wife can't remember it at all. Shirley Fryer has been living with Alzheimer's for the past 16 years.
Stan and Shirley Fryer were married for over 60 years. (Vimeo/Arun Fryer)

Stan took care of her in their family home for as long as he could, but just over a year ago the 90-year-old had to make the decision to move her into a care home.

Fryer visits her there every day. During those visits he talks with her, rubs her back, and tells her he loves her.

"I probably tell Shirley, in an evening, at least 10 or 12 times that I love her. Because as soon as I tell her, she's forgotten."

He also sings with her because although his wife struggles to remember the names of their four children, when Fryer starts the melody to Anne Murray's "Could I Have This Dance," she remembers every word.

"We've sung the song so many times I think that it has become part of her memory," he said.

"I bought the recording of it and we played it regularly. There's quite a number of different songs that are on the tape but we liked this one particularly ... I think because [it] spoke to us. She is my love for the rest of my life. We feel that it's our song." 

When asked what will happen when his wife doesn't remember him anymore Fryer says the answer is simple, "'I'll certainly know her. That's the important thing."

Stan and Shirley's grandson, filmmaker Arun Fryer, made a stunning short documentary film about the couple, "Before She's Gone". Watch it below and click listen to hear Stan's story and advice for a long and loving marriage in the face of Alzheimer's.