By HELEN LAWSON | http://www.dailymail.co.uk
A devoted husband is keeping his wife’s fading memory alive by reading from the diary he has kept for more than 70 years of their marriage.
Jack Potter, 91, visits Phyllis, 93, who suffers from dementia, every day at her care home and shows her photographs and recalls fond memories of their courting days and holidays.
The couple’s love story is reminiscent of the romantic drama The Notebook.
Jack and Phyllis Potter pictured today at the Coppers Beech care home in Rochester, Kent
In The Notebook, James Garner and Gena Rowlands, right, play a couple in a nursing home where he tells her the story of their relationship, while their younger selves are played by Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, left
Phyllis Potter, in 1947, with her dogs. Her husband Jack likes to show her old photographs to help her memory since she was diagnosed with dementia
In the 2004 film, the character Noah, played by James Garner, tells his wife Allie, played by Gena Rowlands, the tale of how they met, were separated and reunited.
Allie, a dementia sufferer, is gripped by the tale – told in flashback with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as their younger selves – and has a brief lucid moment where she realises the story is about her and her husband.
The character wrote the story down herself and instructed Noah to read it to her so she would ‘come back’ to him.
In real life, Mr Potter first met Phyllis at a wartime dance – and instantly fell in love.
He dashed back to his barracks, while serving as a Royal Engineer, to write in his diary that October 4 1941 was a ‘very nice evening. Danced with [a] very nice girl. Hope I meet her again.’
The couple married 16 months later and Mr Potter kept on recording their lives together, carrying on the habit he began as a boy.
Last weekend the Potters celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at the care home in Rochester, Kent, and received a card from the Queen.
Mr Potter still jots down little things to tell his wife when he visits her.
He said: ‘I remember it like it was yesterday the first time I met her – she came up to me and asked me to dance.
‘She was an excellent dance partner and an older woman – I thought she was wonderful and I still do.
‘It was definitely love at first sight, everything fell into place. It was uncanny really.
DIARY OF THE FIRST DAYS OF THEIR COURTSHIP
Wednesday October 15, 1941 (11 days after the first diary entry mentioning Phyllis)
‘Working in billets. Met P.C (Phyllis ClaySon, as she was known then) at dance. Very nice evening.’
Saturday October 18 1941
‘Walked to Strood in 1/2 hour. Met P.C. Danced with her. Very nice evening. Dance finished 10pm. Left her at 11pm and arrived in billets at 12.05am Sunday.’
The couple married in February 1943 after meeting at a wartime dance
‘I remember going home and scribbling down that I had met her in my diary, it sticks in my mind because I suppose it was a life-changing moment.’
Mr Potter said: ‘We’ve been together ever since, I wrote down in my diaries all of our stories and our in-jokes.
‘We have been together forever, we had no children it was just us two.
The couple were presented with flowers and a cake to celebrate the milestone anniversary
‘Phyllis struggles to speak and I will often read to her and chat to her but she struggles to respond.
‘I often take the diaries of our time caravanning and show her the pictures, she enjoys that.
‘Whenever I turn up to see her she stretches her arms out to hug me – she is very affectionate – despite being so unwell.
‘I take her pictures of her dogs she’s had in recent years to keep her up to date with everything around her.’
After leaving the Army Mr Potter worked in the building trade before retiring in 1982.
He and Mrs Potter, who worked as a typist, shared the same house in Rochester for more than 50 years until she moved into the Copper Beeches care home nearby.
Mr Potter said: ‘We celebrated our 70th wedding anniversary last weekend at the care home.
‘I was absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of people there to celebrate with us, I didn’t know what to say.
‘We usually celebrate our anniversary quietly with a glass of wine and a piece of cake, but they wanted to do something a bit special.
‘People always ask what is the secret to success in marriage and I just say what will be will be.
‘We never aimed to reach this anniversary, it just came along.
‘Our lives have been together and they have been everything a person could ever want.
‘If it’s going to happen it’ll happen, we just get on with it.’