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In sickness and in health, couple celebrates Valentine's Day while also taking on dementia

Laughter has been the through line for Diana and Andy Severson's love story, even when that one vow — in sickness and in health — became their reality.

EDINA, Minn. — Marriage vows usually come after a couple decides to ride out a life together.

But what they say in those vows can too often literally come to be. 

So is the case for Diana and Andy Severson.

They married in the fall of 1964 when Andy was 24 and Diana 21.

They shared some friends in the years prior, and simultaneously, hilariously sowed their oats.

“I had a friend, he had a friend, they were brother and sister, and we went up to their cabin and that's when I met him," Diana said Tuesday with a smile sitting next to Andy. "But we never started dating until about a year later because I dated all his friends first."

“That is definitely a true story, I couldn't think of a better one," said Andy. "I did like her but I liked some other ladies, too."

For the better part of the last six decades, they have lived their story. They had two kids; he worked in sales, she in nursing. And they always took little time outs in the name of love.

Like, on Valentine’s Day.

“Early on, yes, I had to teach him a little romance…he caught on pretty well,” Diana said.

“That's right I did!,” Andy immediately responded.

Through it all, laughter has been the through line to this love story. Even when that one vow — in sickness and in health — became their reality.

“I don't have the memory base that I used to have," Andy said quietly. "My doctor said, 'You have dementia,' and that's something that I had to take on and swallow."

“It means to me now that when my loving spouse here is feeling like he doesn't want to be a burden, I remind him of that vow, when illness comes of any kind, whatever it is, I am here to support him as long as I can,” said Diana.

As long as she can. They will.

Andy and Diana go to support groups for caregivers and for those with dementia at Normandale Center in Edina. If you would like to check it out, click here.

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