DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It's time now for Storycorps, the project recording the lives of everyday Americans. Today, we hear from Jeff Ingram. He suffers from a rare type of amnesia. When he has an attack, his memory is wiped clean. He doesn't remember who he is or where he's from. Each time he has to start his life over, and his wife, Penny, is there to help him remember.
At Storycorps, Penny told Jeff about the early days of their relationship.
PENNY INGRAM: You and I were talking on the phone. You said, well, I have a medical condition that I probably should share with you. And so you told me about when you went missing for nine months. And we both agreed that if that were to happen again, we could handle that. I said I would be your memory.
And eventually, you called my mom and asked if you could have my hand in marriage.
JEFF INGRAM: You've told me that story several times and I really wish I could remember that.
INGRAM: The first time you had an amnesia event with me, we woke up that day, said goodbye and you jumped on the freeway. No one knows what happened from that point forward because you ended up in Denver. I was going crazy. But eventually you got on TV and asked America to help you find out who you are.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What's the last thing you remember before you came to and you realized you were in the middle of Denver?
INGRAM: Just picking myself up off the ground outside of a building in downtown Denver.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And do you know if you've ever been to Denver before? Do you know if you're from Denver?
INGRAM: No, I don't.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You remember nothing about your past life.
INGRAM: No, nothing prior to September the 10th.
INGRAM: So I ended up calling the Denver Police Department and that's when they told you who you were. We talked on the phone. I said, Hi, I'm Penny, your fiance. You asked, did we have kids, what's was you life like? It was like meeting you again for the first time. And when you came home, I didn't know what to do, and so I offered to sleep in the spare room considering you didn't know me.
But when you were home for awhile, you called my mother again and asked her for my hand in marriage. And my mom was like, I already told you, yes. And so we got married on New Year's Eve.
INGRAM: That's my biggest regret about having these episodes, is that I forgot that.
INGRAM: We'll do it again, so you can remember it.
INGRAM: It's harder for you because you have the memories and the heartache. I just have nothing.
INGRAM: Yeah, every time you don't pick up the phone when I call, I panic. I think I'm going to lose you again. Someday, if it happens, and you come home and you don't want to be back together, I would have to let you go.
INGRAM: You have no idea how thankful and grateful I am to have you in my life. After my last episode, when I came into the house, I knew I could trust you from the look in your eyes. I knew that that's where I should be. If I lose my memory again, I will still love you. I will always love you.
GREENE: That's Jeff Ingram and his wife Penny in Olympia, Washington. They came to Storycorps to record Jeff's memories in case he loses them again. To hear the message he recorded for himself, go to npr.org. This interview will be archived along with all the others at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress.
And you're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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