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Road crash robbed him of his memory, but love brings it back

This article is more than 12 months old

In June this year, a 58-year-old man and his 54-year-old wife were involved in a horrific motorcycle crash in the United States.

They were both rushed to hospital with multiple injuries, his more serious than hers.

When he woke up, a nurse asked him to state his name, and he did - Andrew Mackenzie.

But when he was asked what year it was, he said 1993.

It turned out that 29 years had been wiped from his memory.

And doctors weren’t sure if he would ever regain recollections of that period.

But he did, thanks to the love of his life, to whom he has been married for 37 years.

As soon as he was out of intensive care, his wife Kristy was taken to see him.

She insisted that she be moved into the same room and the hospital made arrangements to put their beds side by side.

As their injuries healed, they could also sit together. And she coaxed the memories back, of their two daughters, both in their 30s now, with families of their own, and of good times and bad.

Teen lovers

Kristy was just 16 and had another boyfriend when she met Andrew during a camping trip in 1984, in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

They both lived in the area, his home about 16km from hers.

Andrew was 19, and in the US army. He was about to be posted to Germany and didn’t want to leave her side.

"She didn't just melt my knees - it was my whole body," People quoted him as saying.

The other boyfriend was soon history and in less than a year they were married.

She joined him in Germany, and that’s where she completed her high school.

Their passion never faded. "I remember my sister telling me years ago that it'll wear off," Kristy said, insisting that it hasn't.

"Our daughters say we're gross because everywhere we are, I'll kiss him or he'll kiss me. We're holding hands everywhere."

There had been difficult times too, including serious illness. She had suffered a stroke while still in her teens, and he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016.

But their injuries this time were much worse.

The crash

The accident happened on June 19, when they were riding home after celebrating Father’s Day with their younger daughter.

Kristy remembers turning to wave to her daughter and granddaughter - and then waking up in hospital.

They were told later that a driver had gone past a stop sign and hit their motorbike, sending them flying 20m away.

Andrew had a concussion, internal bleeding and multiple fractures - in his back, ribs and nose - and had to be airlifted to hospital for emergency surgery.

Kristy had a mild concussion, and multiple fractures but was assessed as not in need of emergency surgery.

They spent 11 days in hospital and another 11 days in rehab.

And they recovered. "I never would've made it without her," he said.

Renewed vows

While still in hospital, Kristy texted one of her best friends, who was at the couple's 1985 wedding: "When this mess is over, I'm marrying this man again."

Back home, they slowly started to get things back to normal.

They even took their annual North Carolina beach vacation in August. By then they didn’t need wheelchairs or even walkers anymore.

And there, while strolling on the beach, he dropped to his knees in the sand and proposed to her again.

Two days later, on Aug 29, the couple renewed their vows, in the presence of their children and grandchildren.

Their sons-in-law were there too, and one of them officiated.

"It was perfect," said Andrew. And unforgettable.