I know many of us cringe at the word “inspiration” but I hope you will forgive me, Harriet, for using this word at this time. I knew of you and your writings and I met you just once at a conference. There are many aspects about you and your work that are very impressive to me as a person with a severe disability; but the two that are most significant to me are, number one, the way you carried yourself with such pride, integrity and sense of self. You truly knew who you were. Every time I feel shamed when I look at my cocked wrist due to cerebral palsy, I try to think of you and think to myself “Be damned to those who have a problem with the angularity of my limbs.”
The second memorable gift that you left me with appears in a passage in the book you wrote, “Too Late To Die Young.” It’s when you were visiting a nursing home and the staff were treating you different than they were the residents because they knew who you were. You indicated that you didn’t want any preference in the order that they took people to the bathroom, that you would just wait like everyone else. Every time I think of this, a bittersweet lump rises in my throat. Thank you for giving a legacy that we can and must use in recounting disability history to all those eager and full of dreams young people with disabilities.