After being given only a few years to settle his affairs, a happily-married man has defied all odds by going on to live his best life with his family. It's been 16 years since those difficult moments, and the man is constantly bolstered by his wife's faith and commitment and their mutual understanding they won't ever give up on each other.
They've recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary and are determined to keep making great memories no matter what comes their way.
What are the details?
Don Talbott, 57, and his wife Christy, 55, have their home in Gloucester Point, Virginia. They met in high school while Chirsty was working at a Hillside Cinema theater in her hometown.
Don came there quite often but had never approached her. He moved with his family after graduating, and two years later, he came back and drove past the cinema on his motorbike, making Christy look up.
"He came and started talking to me; we became friends," Christy shared with The Epoch Times.
They got married eight months later when Don was 22 and Christy 21.
As it happens, Don had been in love for some time before he opened up to her.
"I told my friends, 'I'll marry her when I get back.' My first impression was there's no way a girl like her would even talk to me. It so happened that my family had moved away, but she never moved out from my mind," Don said.
Christy wanted laughter, support, and faith in her life, and Don gave her all that and so much love.
They had a son who became a teacher in the STEM program.
"We're so proud of him," Don said.
However, their path has been filled with plenty of challenges. Christy found out she had multiple sclerosis right after she got married to Don.
"Sometimes, God wants you to learn a lesson and build character. I know now that everything I went through was so I could react quickly to help Don," Christy said.
At 38, Don had a high-responsibility job where he supervised a construction crew for a mobile company.
However, Christy began getting strange reports about Don falling asleep at work, locking himself out of his car or office, or making statements that had nothing to do with his personality.
She also noticed that, even though Don loved playing for the church band, he was "messing his music up."
He was taken to the University of Virginia, a teaching hospital.
"It took two years for a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. He was young, just 41, so they told us the disease would advance fast; he had four, maybe five years to live home and get all his affairs in order," Christy recalls.
Once they got the shocking update, the couple had a hard time believing it, thinking that the disease was only meant for older people.
Don retired from his job since he didn't want to tell hurtful things to anyone, and Christy dedicated herself to finding a way to keep him happy at home.
They had to sift through advice from friends such as "Try puzzles to bring your memory back" or "Eat this to feel better."
Ultimately, the couple chose to find their way out of the confusing situation. Don struggled after letting go of his job since he couldn't find his purpose, but Christy explained his new purpose would be to stay healthy and close to his family. That would be his "new job."
"It took me time to come to terms with walking away from my job and being unable to support my family. I hadn't built retirement savings, and we had no idea how our finances would work out," Don said.
Christy maintains that they "could not have done it without God."
"Would somebody like me be lucky enough to still have the right to speak? It amazes me," Don added, echoing the same feeling.
During this time of trials, Christy has learned how to guide her husband to rest and sleep or take medication when needed, and Don has placed his full confidence in her as his "anchor."
"No matter what I need, I ask for, or what I'm thinking. I can come to her with the illogical conversations, and she'll sort it," he explained.
"The Alzheimer's has me floating. She's my anchor. I'm on a raft, and that's the only thing that holds me from floating away. I know I need to grab that rope, and she's right there. We know this about each other; I am the one that's at the mercy of the wind," Don added.
Even though they can't go to church or spend much time with friends, the couple tries to make each day a successful one, and they are happy to have each other.
"Every day, I can love the same woman; due to my illness, she has to love someone different each day," Don said, pointing out that daily activities always depend on how he feels on waking up.
Don writes poems for his wife and does his best to show how much he cares. He also goes beyond flowers and chocolates whenever he can.
"If I'm having a good day, I get up, start to move the furniture, vacuum the house; she would rather have me do that," Don shared.
"So many people want excitement. That's cut flowers to me. You need a foundation of faith, laughter, and friendship; build the base, and let your relationship mature. To me, our love is like a potted plant. I've lived most of my life close to him. The one thing we know is we're there for each other, no matter what," Christy concluded about the love that helps them welcome each day with a smile and value the struggles that brought them together in a bond like no other.