There’s an unspoken language between country music legend Randy Travis and his wife, Mary.
The singer, 60, who suffered a massive stroke in July 2013, still has difficulty speaking but that hasn’t stopped the couple from rebuilding a life together on their ranch in Tioga, Texas. The two communicate via “our seventh sense, if you would,” Mary, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “Our communication is between hearts now, and not lips.”
While the prognosis is different for every stroke survivor, Randy is continually making progress — and just celebrated his 60th birthday at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. “The whole third midsection of Randy’s left brain was affected, which is speaking, writing and reading,” Mary explains. “But each day there’s something new that he says or does.”
Now the singer is telling his own story with his new book, Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith and Braving the Storms of Life, out May 14. From his music career, which has earned him seven Grammy Awards, to his 19-year marriage to his former manager and their divorce as well as his struggles with alcohol abuse and anger, the book details all the highs and lows of Randy’s life.
Working with writer Ken Abraham, the singer “wanted people to understand that he’s human,” says Mary. “And that they can overcome too.”
For Randy, getting to go home shortly before Thanksgiving in 2013 after spending four months in hospitals recovering, “was like somebody left the gate open and boy, we were going to go live life,” Mary says. Back at their ranch, the singer had to relearn the most basic of skills. “He didn’t know what the TV remote was or what the telephone was,” adds Mary. “It takes you back to raising a child, and you start all over again.”
Despite the singer’s limitations, “I don’t think he’s ever seen himself as a victim,” Mary says. The couple spend their days going for walks around the property for therapy and attend a weekly Bible study class in a nearby town.
“I tell him all the time, ‘You speak volumes in your silence,’” Mary adds. “In his silence, he can make me feel like a princess. I feel so blessed to get to walk beside him through this.”
For more from our exclusive interview with Randy and his wife Mary, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
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