‘Will you marry me, Maryanne?’ I stood there speechless, awestruck by their love. Hatred isn’t in their blood.’ ‘It’s nothing short of a fairy tale,’ said the married couple who are now the ‘longest living’ Down Syndrome couple.
“On May 17, 1971, Maryanne was born. On March 21, 1958 (World Down Syndrome Day! ), Tommy was born. I’m Maryanne’s sister, and I’ve taken care of them for the past 16 years. Maryanne and Tommy are both born with Down syndrome. Their love tale is one-of-a-kind.
Maryanne was bullied on the streets, which caused her to have a nervous breakdown and make her afraid to leave the house, but with love and support, she recovered swiftly and returned to her normal routine. Maryanne’s life has been challenging and full of tragedy, but her relationship with Tommy has been nothing short of a dream come true.
Maryanne and Tommy met in 1990 while both worked at a local training center for disabled people. They met by chance because they shared a passion for cooking and were both volunteering in the kitchen. It was evident from away that something exceptional was about to happen.
They started dating, and Tommy decided to propose to Maryanne 18 months later. Of course, he first sought permission from our mother (Linda). He’s such a gentleman! They spent as much time together as they could, spending weekends at one other’s homes on alternating weekends. In 1995, they married after three years of dating, and Tommy moved in with us in our family home.
Their wedding day was lovely, with family, friends, and a lot of love in the air. The day-long ceremony was attended by 250 individuals. With her lovely white gown, tiara, and lengthy veil, Maryanne looked like a princess. Tommy looked sharp in his custom-tailored suit. I couldn’t believe how beautiful Maryanne’s automobile was when she arrived at the church. I remember thinking that I wanted a wedding like this when I got married! I wanted to wear the same outfit, drive the same car, attend the same church, and find someone who adored me as much as I did. (I did find my own prince charming, and he is fantastic with both of them.) He is a terrific father and supports me in addition to having his own career.)
I was only seven years old when they married, and I remember watching Maryanne come down the aisle in her stunning gown, which made her look like Cinderella. Her hair was flawless, and her shoes glistened in the light. My husband surprised me by obtaining an identical car for us on our wedding day, and we even had the same wedding colors. They performed their favorite song, Dirty Dancing – (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life after they exchanged vows. They decided to start dancing in front of everyone in the church. Everyone was crying!
Maryanne and Tommy then moved into their own apartment 16 years ago, next door to our mother (and across the street from me), and have lived independently ever since. Our mother and I provide them with a great deal of daily care and assistance. Tommy’s parents both died while he was a child, and he had been in supported living/care since he was 12 years old. He did not enjoy living there and was not adequately cared for.
We spent a lot of time teaching him fundamental things when he moved in with us; he needed a lot of attention with his personal care, brand new clothes, and a new hairstyle. He also needed to eat a lot better. They both require assistance in most parts of their lives, but they work well together.
Maryanne is a wonderful person who is always willing to help. She is the eldest of four children and is naturally a mother. She is a wonderful aunt to my two children, with whom she is really close (age 4 and 9). She might be demanding, grumpy, argumentative, and stubborn at times, but aren’t we all?
Maryanne and Tommy live in a bubble where they only have eyes for each other, where their entire lives revolve around them and they are completely clueless of everyone else. They are so in love with each other that they can’t stand being apart. On our trip to Disney, I observed this on a whole new level, how they actually rely on each other and love each other even more than I had ever imagined possible. Tommy must tell Maryanne 50-100 times a day that he loves her. The number of times I heard him say it over the holiday astonished me.
Tommy has Alzheimer’s disease, which he was diagnosed with five years ago. Maryanne is unaware of the entire extent of his condition, yet she assists him with minor and significant activities on a daily basis. He can’t put his own shoes on anymore, and he needs assistance getting in and out of the bath, as well as using steps and stairs. He is forgetful, and on some days, he asks the same things over and over again, becoming irritated and grumpy. There have been days when he has become enraged and told Maryanne that she is not his wife and that she is married to someone else. Maryanne will be quite unhappy since she doesn’t understand what’s going on, so we explain it to her by stating he’s disoriented from a horrible dream.
One of my favorite memories of them is watching them watch fireworks in Disney World. They stood there, arm in arm, utterly engrossed in the moment, oblivious to anyone or what was going on around them. It was simply stunning. I’m amazed at how pure their love is; there’s no hidden goal, and they don’t have any cruel or bad traits. It isn’t in their blood.
I want people to understand that, with the correct assistance, anything is achievable with love, regardless of whether or not someone has a learning handicap. I am extremely proud of Maryanne and Tom for proving all the critics wrong. In junior high and high school, I was bullied for having a sister with Down syndrome; I hope the terrible kids who bullied me have found out about their tale since then! I truly believe that times have changed and that today’s children are more conscious and accepting. My kid proudly brings her aunty and uncle’s newspaper and magazine articles to school to show her teachers and peers. Maryanne and Tom were featured on the evening news in March after Tommy received around 100 birthday cards from their Facebook fans. My daughter enthusiastically informed her teacher, and the two of them sat in class and watched the entire interview.
‘My husband Tommy,’ Maryanne usually introduces Tommy to everyone she meets in stores, the movies, and other places. Everywhere they go, they go hand in hand. They had big smiles on their cheeks as if they were in their own little bubble, full of love and happiness. They spend every day together and go to a variety of places (with my permission) such as bowling, shopping, going out to dinner, going out for coffee, playing golf, visiting farms and zoos, and so on. Every night, they sit hand in hand in front of the television to watch their favorite shows.
Tommy is always referred to as Maryanne’s best friend. Tommy always refers to Maryanne as his love, therefore he refers to her as my love’ and my sweet wife.’ He sings to her frequently, and his favorite song is Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender.’ Tommy is an Elvis Presley devotee, and our mother went both of them to Graceland to see his home. A once-in-a-lifetime adventure!
Every weekend, Maryanne and Tommy go for a walk to the neighborhood stores, where they look around and have a drink together. A stranger befriended them, diverted their attention, and snatched Tommy’s wallet one day. We reside in a small town where Maryanne and Tommy are well-known. I decided to inquire whether anyone had noticed anything in a public Facebook post. The post had been shared 150k times in less than 48 hours. The response was tremendous. Messages of concern and disgust were sent to me from all around the world. Others have offered to replace his wallet and money. After it crashed, I had to put my Facebook account on lockdown. Two local men eventually decided they wanted to help, so they began asking around and gathering information. They tracked down the perpetrator and marched him to the local police station.
They are unable to read or write, to tell the time, or to comprehend the concept of money. They have no concept of risk. They are excellent at road safety, yet they are unable to handle an oven or iron. They are capable of basic food preparation and can create hot beverages, but they do not recognize when food has passed its expiration date. They also don’t know what kind of attire to wear in different seasons.
They reaffirmed their wedding vows 14 years ago and again four years ago. They’ve been together for 29 years, dating back to when Maryanne was 19 years old. Tommy is 13 years Maryanne’s senior, and he celebrated his 60th birthday with a tremendous bash two years ago! On the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day!
Their marriage is like anything out of a fairy tale, and they are a happily married pair. I believe we could all learn a thing or two from them! Of course, they fight and have problems, but with our aid, they can resolve their differences.
Many people doubted them when they got engaged 26 years ago, saying it was horrible and that they shouldn’t be allowed to marry. They also stated that it would never be successful. But it’s incredible to think they’re still as happy as they were when they first met 29 years ago. Their love for one another is evident on their Facebook profile. It demonstrates how happy they are together, how much they adore each other, and it disproves all the skeptics!
They are now the world’s oldest Down syndrome couple.
And their life philosophy is: “With love, anything is possible.”