Love is such a beautiful feeling that once you have felt and found it, you never want to let go of it no matter what your circumstances are. A couple from the UK found each other and fell in love despite the doubts of several people around them. Nothing could stop their innocent, pure love from blossoming into a long and successful marriage. However, after years of being each other’s shadow, Maryanne and Tommy Pilling fear they will soon be torn apart, leaving them heartbroken and worried.
The couple is the first in the UK to be married despite both of them being born with down syndrome. Even after 24 years together, the two still seem like a young couple hopelessly in love with each other. The only time it doesn’t seem so, is when Tommy’s dementia symptoms begin showing up.
The duo met at a life skills training center in July of 1990. The couple whose love started with their interest in music, dated for 18 months before Tommy decided to pop the big question. He got a plastic ring from a vending machine and asked Maryanne’s mum Linda Martin for her hand before he actually proposed to her. Linda was elated and respected their decision to spend the rest of their lives together. She sent out invitations and organized a big wedding for the lovely couple.
“When I sent out the invitations people said it wouldn’t last and asked me what I’d do if it didn’t. But we need to treat Tommy and Maryanne like adults. Everyone should be able to marry the love of their lives,” said the mother to Mirror Online.
In July 1995, the couple tied the knot in the presence of their family and friends and became Britain’s first couple with Down Syndrome to tie the knot. Since then, they have never moved away from each other’s sight. Maryanne, who recalls that day even today says, “… My wedding day was the best day of my life. I love my husband. He is my best friend.”
After their marriage, the couple moved in with Linda so she could ensure they learn to take care of each other and live independently. “They would talk all the time, from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to sleep. I had to bang on the wall because they’d be in hysterics. They also cooked with me every night and I taught them the basics of how to make fresh dinners. These two are marvelous in the kitchen. That’s where Tommy gets into his element,” said Linda.
In 2002, the couple moved to the flat next door, with their love for each other only growing stronger with each passing day. Tommy sings to his wife every day and the two never are keen on celebrating their anniversary every year.
In 2014, the couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary and even renewed vows in front of their family. However, they are not sure if they could spend their next anniversary together. While they look forward to their 25th year together, Tommy’s dementia diagnosis has led to uncertainty.
“He’s forgotten who Maryanne is a handful of times. He pushes her away and says, ‘I don’t know who you are’ and ‘I don’t love you’. Maryanne takes that to heart and is hysterical. She calls me and I go across the road to calm them down. It’s scary for Tommy too but then he forgets anything has happened. We tell her Tommy forgets things because his brain’s a bit poorly and he’s getting older,” said Maryanne’s sister Lindi Newman.
Though it breaks Maryanne’s heart, she is determined to keep him with her. She guides him and takes care of him whenever he struggles to remember things. “I tell him I love him three times a day. We have kisses and cuddles. I do all I can.”
However, if Tommy’s condition goes out of hand, he will have to be moved to a care home. “But we take each day as it comes because we’ve been told if Tommy needs residential care, Maryanne wouldn’t be able to go with him. We’d do whatever we could to stop it happening,” said Linda.
They help the couple celebrate their days together and looks forward to celebrating their 25th anniversary. “Every year they have together is special and we make the most of it. And I always take lots of photos and have them put into an album for Tommy to help his memory,” said Lindi.
Though Tommy’s memory is gradually fading, his love for his wife still remains the same. No matter what he forgets, he still remembers the day he tied the knot with the love of his life. “And while Tommy is tired when we leave him, we still hear him repeat: “I married Maryanne on 15th July,” said Lindi. “There’s just so much love that comes through there. Tommy and Maryanne have set the bar throughout their relationship. It’s literally a fairytale,” she added.
The love of this couple might be beyond our understanding but it surely is true and inspirational.