Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eulogy: The World's Best Personal Assistant

People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad. Marcel Proust~

Darrow Hozian (pictured on the right) is living in that “sort of aura of live” for me right now. I cannot believe he is gone. I have said goodbye to two dear friends and activists this week. JoAnn Bayer died last week. Darrow died on Friday, January 9, 2009.

He was THE BEST personal assistant on earth; and has the awards to prove it. He also has a long line of people with disabilities he worked for as a personal assistant, who will attest to his best-ness. I know he did not receive pay for much of the work he did; he did it out of kindness and love. If your PA did not show up, Darrow was the first person you would call to for emergency help. He rarely, if ever, turned people down.

The fact he was a person with a disability too may have something to do with it. He got it.

Darrow had cerebral palsy. His gait was a little spastic, and his speech a little slurred. He was strong… really strong. He could lift his own weight; picking up a person and transferring them from their wheelchair to where ever, effortlessly. He was not a big man, 5’8” maybe; but he had the largest hands for a man his size I have ever seen. He could have easily palmed a basketball. Making the basket may have been another story.

Darrow’s heart of gold is what that made him such a valued member of our community. He would do anything for anyone.

He was not without his demons. Sometimes we people with disabilities live on the edge and get used to taking risks, sometimes dangerous ones; sometimes destructive ones.

That is the point of living independently; we get to make those choices just like the rest of the world. Darrow made his; and those choices probably shortened his life. However it was, after all, his life. We sometimes forget that independent living is all about freedom. Still I wish his demons had not followed him so closely.

Darrow had a twinkle in his eye; what did he know I didn’t know? Did he have an unshared secret that made his entire face light up when he smiled like that? He also carried with him an arsenal of jokes. He was quick witted and fun and funny. He had an earnestness not often seen in humans. He never failed to ask about Mike’s health when I saw him, and he asked about me, every time he saw Mike.

He had a strong desire to contribute any way he could. To mention another, for years he and Janice did all the mass mailings for the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois… no small feat.

His last few years were difficult ones for him. However, whenever we saw him he always approached Mike and gave him one of those “man hugs.” You know, where you shake hands with one hand, and throw the other over the shoulder, then pull the person tight to you.

His long time partner, Janice, is in southern Illinois now burying him. We, in Springfield, feel alone mourning our loss.

Darrow is standing holding Janice's hands. She is seated in her wheelchair; they are dancing.Darrow and Janice dancing at the 2008 Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois/Independent Living Annual Conference.

Mike (Magitator) also blogged about Darrow today. You can read it here.

1 comment:

Jessica Hayes said...

An absolutely beautiful tribute Cilla! Thank you – I needed this.