The Scharoun-DeForges had an amazing 25 years of love and joy in their marriage which ended with Paul's sad demise.
Dealing with a condition like Down Syndrome takes immense strength. So the world applauded couple Paul Scharoun-DeForge, 56, and wife Kris, 59, both suffering from the condition, for fighting against all odds and making their marriage work. For 25 blissful years, Paul and Kris stayed true to their vows; they remained together in sickness and in health, never forgetting the love that brought them together, and always honoring one another.
However, just a few months after the De-Forges celebrated their 25th anniversary, Paul, who had been suffering from Alzheimer's, passed away. This marked the end of the world's longest Down Syndrome marriage. According to The Washington Post, in a eulogy read out by a family member, it was said luck shined on Paul wherever he went. “To an outsider, it may not seem that way — but to those of us who knew and loved him, it’s absolutely true,” stated the eulogy.
Paul and Kris' journey has not been an easy one. But love is a strong force and they never let anyone tell them otherwise. They believed that they were the luckiest people in the world making their marriages one of the happiest ones.
They first met in the 1980s when they locked eyes at a dance for people with disabilities. Thus began a beautiful relationship between the two. Then in 1988, Kris made her move and asked Paul to marry her. She said, "He made me laugh. I looked into his eyes and saw my future, and that’s when I proposed to him. … He said yes." She even told her elder sister, Susan Scharoun, "I like a man who is like me."
Unfortunately, they had a ton of hurdles to get over when they tried to get married. Some people pitied them, while others discouraged them. They even had to prove to the state that they were completely aware of what it meant to get married. From taking Planned Parenthood-sponsored classes to writing tests that measured their understanding of sexual knowledge, feelings, and needs, the road leading up to their marriage was bumpy.
But five years later, all their work paid off and in 1993, they were finally given permission to get married. In an even more unusual twist for those times, they combined their surnames and placed Kris' surname first.
According to Metro.co.uk, the two lived together in a state-supported apartment community for people with disabilities. While they shared a bedroom, a second room was set up for their carers. Paul managed to bag a job at Arc of Onondaga’s workshop, an organization to support people with disabilities while Kris found work with Pizza Hut. They were also ecstatic to become the godparents to their niece.
Sadly, nearly a year ago, Paul began to show signs of dementia. The National Institute of Aging states that 50% or more of people suffering Down Syndrome will develop dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, as they grow older.
Susan told The Washington Post, "They are role models for everybody who wants a good relationship. They were a team. They deferred to each other and looked out for each other." Both of them had also been suffering from various health complications and were forced to move to separate institutes that would care for them. This didn't stop them from renewing their vows though in 2018.
Shortly before Paul passed on, Kris drew a picture of a butterfly to hang on the wall beside his bed because he loved the flying creatures. She told Washington Post, "I think of Paul flying up in the air … and being free."
And now, he is free. After living a full life with his sweetheart and the support of his family and friends, he has finally achieved peace. Our hearts are the with family and Kris at this time as they mourn his loss.