Now, more than 40 years after trying to help him, Joan Neininger is set to marry Ken Selway .
Joan, 88, and Ken, 89, now live in the same care home in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, and will marry on her birthday, a few days after Valentine's Day.
"When I saw him ferreting through the bins outside a fish and chip shop near my bookshop in Gloucester, I never thought for a minute it would end like this.She spent years helping with Ken with his battle with schizophrenia before proposing during the 2016 leap year and getting her happy ending.''
"Although he was living on the streets, I knew straight away that Ken was lovely man with a beautiful soul."
Over the next few years, Ken came in and out of the family's life but caring for Ken took a toll on Joan's 30-year marriage.When husband Norman gave her an ultimatum she bought a caravan in Twigworth and moved in. Later, Ken came to stay too.
At first they were happy but Ken's mental health problems made him unpredictable and he could fly off the handle if she said the wrong thing or make unjust accusations.
He could not manage day to day living and it had an impact on Joan's health.After several years of make-ups and break-ups, Joan said Ken had to choose between her and medical help.Their relationship has always been celibate but she wrote:
"Strangely enough this disciplined denial brought us even close together."Although Ken is not able to express his feelings towards me, there is not the necessity.For several decades Joan, Ken and Norman lived happily together as at Moorend Cottage in Hartpury and the trio worked with volunteers at charities helping homeless people in the county, giving out food on Christmas Day.
"His smiles laughter, tears, speak a language more eloquent than words, emotional perhaps, but from the heart."
"I married at 16 and Norman was a wonderful man and a lovely husband and father," she said"Because there was no sexual jealousy it was fine and Ken and Norman were like brothers. It was like a little paradise, just Ken, Norman and me.But Norman had a fatal heart attack and Ken developed health problems which meant he eventually had to move into Hanover Court in Cinderford.
Joan went to live with her eldest daughter but they were desperately lonely and care staff arranged for Joan to move into Ken's flat. She proposed.
Now everybody is looking forward to their wedding at Cinderford registry office on February 18, Joan's birthday.
Culled from Daily Mirror