Monday, April 29, 2013

In memoriam.

We've never met. I knew her as @DanaWheels. We connected through Twitter, we communicated via my blog. Like me, she had Cerebral Palsy although I think she had some other conditions as well. She was much older than me, she was in high school when I was born and I believe her mobility was more limited than mine. We first started interacting last year. When I wrote a post about how people on the street tend to assume I'm homeless and sometimes give me money, she replied that she wouldn't mind if it happened to her, but nobody wanted to. When I started the discussion about electric versus manual wheelchairs in which some other users weighted in, I was saying that pushing myself gives me a sense of freedom. She was using a motorized chair because a manual one caused her some injuries, throwing her arm out and she appreciated the ease of use. When she read I was afraid of large strange dogs, she explained that she trained companion dogs for the disability community. She believed I could use one to help me with things, I insisted I wanted as little help as possible, human or animal. In turn, I wondered if she could have benefited from Conductive Education as I did growing up. Perhaps it could have made her more mobile, with better control of her body and as a result less prone  to injury. Her name was Dana Marshall. She embodied what I thought an adjusted person with a disability should be. Not afraid,  not ashamed, with an active life, confident and always standing up for herself. I could always count on her to react whenever I posted something about people blocking wheelchair access,  be it inconsiderate bikers or people in the restroom. We were thinking about working together. She got to my post in which I brainstorm about how to make my town more wheelchair accessible without getting a reputation for shutting businesses down. She explained she used to do ADA inspections and her idea was for her to come to Gainesville. She would roll around town visiting venues and I would be just the attorney, like the lawyers she worked with back home. My new project is somewhat inspired by her story. We connected sometime last year. Then at some point interaction ended. I didn't think much of it, we are all pretty busy people. Yesterday I found posts from her brief stricken husband, by a complete accident. Dana has passed away six months ago. It made me think how fragile life is. For a moment it made me ponder my own mortality and the type of legacy you leave behind. I always have these thoughts when I hear of yet another person with my disability no longer with us. But mostly I thought of what a loss it was to everyone. The amazing things she has done and would have done still, full life, interrupted. Of her husband. And then I decided to email him offering my condolences.

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