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Through dementia, this 76-year marriage is a testament to love

Bill and Esther Walls got married in 1946 and have been side-by-side ever since.

CARROLLTON, Texas — Two weeks ago, one of the residents at Sonoma House Assisted Living and Alzheimer’s Care in Carrollton turned 100, and the one person who said it’s not important was the birthday girl.

“No,” 100-year-old Esther Walls exclaimed. “I don’t know why people get so shocked. I mean, so what?” 

Walls said there are far more important things than being 100. Most notably, love.

“I wouldn’t trade him for a million dollars,” she said.

Walls' husband, Bill, who turned 100 last fall, was diagnosed with dementia about eight years ago.

They’ve been married for 76 years.

That’s why, as the dementia got worse, and Bill moved into assisted living, Walls moved with him. 

“I still love him very much,” Walls said. “And you love me too, don’t you Bill?”

“That’s right,” Bill responded. 

In fact, despite Bill’s condition, their love has never been stronger.

“And that’s an example for us,” said the couple's daughter, Deb Grambling. “Don’t accept anything less.” 

Bill and Esther Walls met in church and got married in 1946.

After serving in the Army Air Corps, Bill traveled the world working as a geologist while Walls stayed home with the kids. Sometimes, she joined him on his travels, going on all sorts of adventures.

Unfortunately for Bill, many of the memories they made have been erased.

Yet somehow, Walls said signs of their love remain.

“Who am I,” she asked Bill. “To you, what am I?”

“Well, you’re everything,” Bill responded.

Dementia can be a cruel disease, but it’s good to know when the mind fades away the heart will almost always stay. 

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