DIGBY, N.S. – For Holly and Douglas (Doug) Williams, love really does conquer all – and that includes both partners suffering from MS, mobility issues, life on four wheels and other medical concerns associated with having MS.
While the couple may suffer from health issues, their relationship is clearly not suffering. Last year, they celebrated Valentine’s Day at Tideview Terrace in style after being voted by other residents as Mr. and Mrs. Valentine. They were honoured for the day as the resident lovebirds and were given a scarf for Doug, a bouquet of roses for Holly and chocolates for both.
The pair also celebrated another special day on May 27 of last year when, in front of about 100 of their friends and family at the Digby Curling Club, they got married.
“We both wanted to make it official,” Holly said.
Holly added one of her friends told her it was the funniest wedding she’d ever attended.
Doug explained: “When she was trying to put the ring on my finger, I ended up giving her the finger.” And Holly said her side of the family helped add to the hilarity by responding to the “who gives this woman to this man?” question with a quip that went like: “And you can keep her too.”
But all jokes aside, their love story is one for the history books. They didn’t meet at Tideview Terrace. In fact, Holly and Doug met more than 10 years ago through an MS support group run by the hospital – and Holly said they soon became friends.
“One day we just started talking. Then we were friends for about a year, and then we decided to move in together,” Holly said.
They initially moved into a space together in Weymouth.
“I took care of him and he took care of me,” Holly said.
But soon, that arrangement became too much for both partners, and it will soon be six years since the couple was able to move into the residential facility in Digby.
“I wasn’t sure if we would both get in,” Holly said. “I knew they would take Doug, but I wasn’t sure if they would take me.”
But the call came through and they were told they could move in together and Holly said they’re lucky they get to spend about 75 per cent of their time together. When asked if they ever argue, they both immediately say “No.”
Holly explained: “We talk things out. Talking is so important. And we understand each other so well.”
They both agreed that getting to know each other as friends before moving in together really helped. But they say their maturity has helped them to get along as well – Doug is 63, Holly 57.
“When you get older you have a better level of understanding,” Holly said. “You’re more responsible, more patient. I tell everyone to wait to get married – don’t get married too young.”
Doug is originally from Windsor, Ont. and Holly from Weymouth. Doug was in the military – he spent six months in the Middle East, and two years being sent all over.
“I’ve seen a lot of the world,” Doug said.
Holly explained after Doug was diagnosed with MS in 1993, the military wouldn’t give him his pension because he didn’t serve his full 20 years. She herself was diagnosed in 2004 and the disease has affected her spine and her right arm. Doug’s mobility and his speech are both affected. But even after living through so much, they’re not bitter. In fact, they’re grateful – and their happiness shines through in their gentleness towards each other. Their best words of advice for a happy marriage – listen to each other.
“Make sure you love her and listen to her,” Doug said.
His words make Holly smile. “He’s so easy to get along with.”
And does the world need more love?
“You don’t have anything if you don’t have love,” Doug said.
They both smile.
“Life is good,” Doug said.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Holly said.