Happily ever after for this couple with Down syndrome ended too soon when husband Paul DeForge died shortly after their 25th wedding anniversary.
DeForge of Syracuse, New York, died last week at 56 years old from complications of dementia. He had been living in an intensive care facility away from his wife, Kris Scharoun-DeForge, for the last several months as a result of Alzheimer's.
“We had to tell her he wasn’t going to come back and it became really difficult for her,” Kris’ sister Susan Scharoun told the "Today" show. "They were a complement as a couple. They had each other's backs. They just treated each other so well."
He and his widow were believed to have had the longest marriage of any couple in which both partners have Down syndrome.
They were married in 1994 despite many public criticisms that two people with Down syndrome shouldn't be married, and celebrated being married for 25 years on Aug. 13, 2018.
"I just wanted more people to see Kris and Paul as role models for what people with disabilities can be," Susan explained. “They have been a role model for unconditional positive regard in a relationship.”
The pair shared a lifetime of love, spending time cooking together and enjoying events in their community. They also liked spending time with their families and camping in the Adirondack Mountains.
Moving to the intensive care facility was difficult for Kris, her sister said, but the couple renewed their vows last Valentine’s Day in the hospital chapel.
Above Paul’s bed at the intensive care facility was a handwritten note from Kris telling him that he was “the man of my dreams,” according to the Buffalo News.
"She always said to us that when she saw Paul, she saw her future," Susan said.