Country Music Legend Randy Travis Still Likes to Play Pranks After Massive Stroke
“If you walk out a door, he’s probably going to lock it on you,” his wife, Mary, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue. “We make it a point to find something to laugh about every single day. That makes all the difference in the world. Even through the tears sometimes, of sadness and defeat, you smile.”
Now the singer, who just celebrated his 60th birthday, is reflecting on his life story in his new book, Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith and Braving the Storms of Life, out May 14. Working with writer Ken Abraham, Randy signed off on all the stories his loved ones told and helped shape the memoir into a first-person narrative.
The book details all the highs and lows in the singer’s life including his successful music career, during which he won seven Grammy awards, and his struggles with alcohol abuse and anger, including his infamous 2012 arrest for driving while intoxicated — and naked.
“He wanted people to understand that he’s human,” says Mary. “And that they can overcome too.”
In July 2013, Travis suffered a massive stroke after his heart stopped while being hospitalized for viral cardiomyopathy. His long road to recovery included another near-death experience that brought Randy and his wife even closer.
“Every day my prayer was, ‘God, just let me have him back, I don’t care how,'” recalls Mary, who married the singer in 2015.
While he still struggles with speech, Randy has been able to sing — he surprised everyone with a rendition of “Amazing Grace” in 2016 when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But he still dreams of fully returning to his music career some day.
“We’re so grateful for just the gift of life — because we got to see how delicate it was,” adds Mary. “As we’ve learned, you never know from day to day. We’ll never give up hope.”
For more from our exclusive interview with Randy and his wife Mary, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.