reflections related to disability advocacy, family and (needed) cultural change
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Our Friend Ange: A Life Anyone Would Want
I met my husband back in May of 1985 and within a couple of weeks he took me out to meet the friends he grew up with. They called themselves The Eastside Hecklers—this only worried me a little!
What a group! They were a bunch of guys and girls who all grew up together in one big neighborhood. Several, but not all of them, were of Italian descent, some of them went to the same grade school or high school or church…They had lots of history, lots of inside jokes and a habit of harassing the musicians—whom they’d also known forever—that performed at the neighborhood bar.
Little did I know that 23 years later these folks would have evolved from being acquaintances, to being friends, and by now, to being family…
And in this group was Ange.
Ange was proud of his Italian heritage, he drove a huge car (this was the 80s and we were really young—we all had used cars that were either tiny or huge!) He was funny, feisty, and never missed a night out. He was an enthusiastic heckler—that night he asked the musician halfway through the first set when the band was coming. And that musician (Jeff Elliott) always put his name into one of his songs… which he still sings…
(In the Jimmy Buffett song Pencil-Thin Moustache who do they really have an autographed picture of??? As far as I know it’s been Ange for more than 20 years!)
Ange was also the first guy to remind the motorcycle crowd when they left to go home, “Shiny side up!” He loved the Beatles and Jimmy Buffett and Lynyrd Skynyrd (mandatory generational and neighborhood favorites.) He was the music trivia king—and movies too, I think.
And, he had Cerebral Palsy.
Ange was born in 1963. He was born before inclusive education. He was born before people with ‘significant disabilities’ had hope of living in neighborhoods, driving cars, having friends who did not have disabilities, having intimate relationships, having children, etc, etc, etc.
And he did all of these things—and more.
This says tons about his family, his friends and him…
The past year, sadly, Ange battled cancer. UGH.
He died on November 10th.
At his funeral his cousin Scott said, “When Ange was born and had all his issues we knew he was going to be ‘special’ because of his disabilities. But we were wrong. Ange was special, but it had nothing to do with his disability. He was special because of the kind of man he became.”
Ange, we miss you.
Ange had a life that ANYONE would want—not a system life, not a disability life. A good life.
If all of this was possible for a man born in 1963 we have no business settling for anything less for ourselves or our children in 2008.
Can I have an Amen??
(In the picture Ange is the guy that's sitting on the bench.)
I am the mother of three, wife of one. I am a Partners in Policymaking graduate and a committed disability advocate. I want to catch up on my scrapbooking, learn more about art-journaling, get my house in order, read all the books I have set aside to read and change the world--not necessarily in that order. The opinions in this blog are my own and not those of any of employers.