Caring for a loved one comes with many challenges, but when Bill’s beloved wife Glad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he looked at the role of providing care for his wife as a privilege.
“She has done so much for me over all of these years, and now she can’t, but I can, and I can return her love and it means that I can do everything for her,” said Bill.
“I clean her teeth, I shower and dress her, everything – but it’s a privilege to care for this woman who I’ve loved all these years and continue to love.”
Bill and Glad’s love story began over 60 years ago. Bike riding has been a feature of their relationship since they first met at the ages of eight and nine years old.
As a child, Bill would spend hours riding his bike with his best friend who happened to be the brother of his future wife. Even though he had no interest in Glad initially, things changed in their teenage years when he saw her dressed up for the first time.
“When I was 17 and she was 16, I saw her all dressed up and dolled up with an A-line dress and then ‘boom’ I was gone. She was the one for me then,” said Bill.
“When we first started dating, I used to ride my bike from where I was to where she was, and that was about 5km on a Saturday afternoon because that was the only chance we had to get together.”
“It was hair washing day for her, and she used a special cream for her hair or shampoo. I can still smell it because that smell was so particular and so nice and it was really special.”
Bill and Glad were married only a few years later, and biking together as a couple was something that both of them enjoyed.
Bill even put attached a baby chair to the front of Glad’s bike, and the pair would ride along with their infant children as passengers.
Sometime around 2004, Bill began to notice that things were changing for his beloved wife Glad, and she was soon diagnosed with Alzheimers’s disease.
As Glad’s condition began to affect her mobility, Bill feared that she would fall while they were out walking, so he set about coming up with a solution that would allow them to remain active.
Taking inspiration from their love of biking and time spent overseas in countries that rely on bike transportation, Bill came up with the idea of creating a ‘bike chair’ for his wife and started work on the design.
Bill then took his design to a friend who managed to turn Bill’s idea into a reality.
“We take it to the beach, and we ride alongside the beach together,” said Bill.
“People always come and talk to us because it’s a unique thing and nobody else really has a bike chair.”
Although operating the bike does take a physical toll on Bill, the pedals of his bike are powered by a deep love for Glad that Bill attributes to his spirituality.
“You see, God has loved us so unconditionally and I understand that God has put his love in my heart. Because I realise that God has loved me, I too can love my lovely wife,” said Bill.
“She’s my princess and I’m her William, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am determined to care for her every need.”