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How we live together: the couple affected by short-term memory loss

Mary Rose Young, 61

Phil and I met and married in the same year, 24 years ago. Three and a half years later, in 1999, he had an aneurysm while we were jogging. He is a musician and had been on a world tour with Iggy Pop; now he can’t follow a tune all the way through because his short-term memory is affected.

He’s the happiest person I know, because he never gets bored. He goes from playing his instruments to making coffee, then doing word puzzles. Because of his lack of short-term memory, he’s always starting everything afresh. So I call him “Five-second Phil”. He gets it. Humour is a great crutch for us.

I’m a potter and my workshop adjoins our home. I have about six people working with me, which was great in the early years, when my life was thrown into chaos: there were others here who could look out for him. Sometimes I imagine he gets lonely, but he doesn’t – he really has no concept of it. If we’re stuck in traffic and I’m grumpy, he doesn’t realise how long we’ve been there. And I just look at him and think, well, if you’re happy, then I’m happy. What I learn from Phil is the joy of living in the moment.

Phil Butcher, 61

I’m “Five-second Phil”! My short-term memory is totally gone. Well, that was my experience of going jogging, anyway. I love doing crosswords and Scrabble. Mary Rose and I usually have a game at lunchtime. I see her during the day, though; I visit her in her workshop. I also like being in my own workspace in the music studio. I used to be a musician. I can still play, but not professionally. I am a man of very simple pleasures.

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Source: TheGuardian