Meet Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, the real couple behind the amnesia love story The Vow

If you’re like me, you thought The Vow (opening February 10 for Valentine’s Day) starring Rachel McAdamas and Channing Tatum, while fodder for some romantic eye candy and possibly a few tears, was just another of those love amnesia stories made-up for the movies. But it turns out there is a real life couple that inspired the story!

In 1993, about two months after her marriage to 27-year-old Kim, 23-year-old Krickett suffered a head injury that would erase her memory of the last 18 months, including the courtship and wedding to the man of her dreams.

Krickitt (real name Krisxan) met Kim September 1992 when he phoned into an Anaheim, California sportswear company she was working to order team jackets for the baseball team he was coaching at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas (Kim became the youngest University baseball coach in the US at the age of 23.) While they were chatting they found out they had a lot in common: Krickett’s father had also been a baseball coach, and they were both devout Christians. They continued calling each other and by January 1993 they “were talking five hours a week” Kim told People magazine in 1996.

By April, Kim invited Krickitt to visit him in New Mexico, and he remembers the first time he met her he felt like he had known her all his life. June 1993, Kim surprised Krickitt by showing up unannounced at her apartment with flowers and proposing. “I asked if she’d become my lifetime buddy,” he said. She said yes, and they married that September.

Unfortunately for Krickitt, she can’t remember one second of this lovely time. All she has of their experience meeting and falling in love are the things Kim tells her. “The last 2½ years have been based on a story I’m told,” Krickitt said in 1996 “because I don’t remember any of it.”

November 24, 1993, Krickitt was driving Kim and a friend on Interstate 40 during a trip to visit her parents in Pheonix when she swerved to avoid hitting a slow-moving truck. While averting the first danger, another truck slammed into the car. Krickitt suffered a head injury and almost died. When she started to come around it was discovered that while she retained a great deal of her long-term memory, she had no idea who her husband was. He was a stranger to her. “I don’t have a visual memory in my head, and I have no memory in my heart,” she said. Instead, when the doctors asked who her husband was, she gave the name of an ex-boyfriend, Todd. (In the movie it’s an ex-fiance named Jeremy.)

Krickitt suffered this memory problem because when her head was struck from behind during the accident, her brain hit the front of her skull, damaging her frontal lobe, which is responsible for short-term memory.

The Carpenters, who remarried May 25, 1996, refused offers by others to help them tell their story, and wrote it temselves. Their book, The Vow, is now out-of-print, and is being re-released with updated information to coincide with the film’s release February 10, 2012. They also sold the rights to the movie in 1996, but refused many, many scripts. Kim was especially upset over one that would have been rated R.” Kim says he “threw a fit. It had the F-word in it and that was not acceptable. It takes a lot for me to say a bad word. In our family, if you say a bad word, you have to pay for it.”

The one script that did get their approval isn’t a direct translation of the Carpenter’s situation, but they feel it does generally tell their story with a bit of Hollywood glamour and spin added. They do say there are some inaccuracies to the story (which features characters named Paige and Leo, and they’re disappointed that the film left out the aspect of baseball, which was one of the key things that brought them together.

The couple now have two children Danny 11, and LeeAnn, 8, and they’re still together, but unlike what is no doubt depicted in the movie (we’re not sure about that, haven’t seen it yet,) Krickitt didn’t fall back in love with her husband. She told the Farmington Daily Times: “I would love to say that I fell in love with him again because that’s what everybody wants to hear. I chose to love him and that was based on obedience to God, not feelings … I chose to love him because I made a vow.” Krickitt now looks back longingly at video footage of their wedding, watching a girl she wishes she knew, but who doesn’t really exist anymore.

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