Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cousin Mickey, Z"L

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet
Michael DeBovis, 1940-2006

My Cousin Mickey was my oldest cousin. I didn't really know him until a few years ago. He died today.

Mickey was born with CP, Cerebral Palsy. He was my Aunt Betty's first child. In 1940 babies with CP were rarely taken home from the hospital, but my aunt didn't give up on him, nor give him up. The care in those days for CP sufferers wasn't very good, so he didn't accomplish what a similarly affected person could do today. Mickey never complained. Mickey loved life and people.

When he was a kid they didn't have arrangements for handicapped kids to go to school, so our Aunt Sadie (Finkelstein) taught him how to read and write, and his father taught him math. At one point, when he was already middle-aged, he learned accounting.

The pictures posted are from this summer when my Cousin Kenny drove me and my parents to see him. Mickey spent the last decades of his life in the Cheshire Home, Florham Park, NJ. It's a home for handicapped adults. Mickey loved it there, and everybody, staff and other residents loved him, too. He teased and flirted with the staff, and everyone kept telling me that he was the most popular resident. When Mickey reached a certain age (I'm not sure exactly how old) the State of New Jersey announced that he had to be transferred to a geriatric facility. He refused to go and managed to have a special law written and passed that would allow him to stay in the Cheshire Home.

Mickey and I exchanged emails. That's how we developed such a close relationship. I visited him my last few trips to the states. He had a great sense of humor. He told me that when the "home" had trips to a local mall he would go and find a nice lady to wheel his chair, which wasn't electric. He'd never say that he had CP, he'd say he was injured in the "war," because it was "sexier."

Mickey loved baseball and was a Yankee's fan.

Mickey was very spiritual and said and wrote many times that "thanks G-d every morning for being alive."

Yehi zichro baruch


Anonymous said...

Bless his heart...

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry Batya...but what a tribute to your aunt Betty!

It sounds like Mickey was a man I'd have loved to have known, full of fun and life. How very fortunate you were to have that special relationship with him, I have no doubt he cherished every email. I have no doubt he is much missed.

I've seen so many people, usually elderly, that are "dumped" by their families, it's really nice to hear this about your family.

Anonymous said...

Mickey and my brother Frank were roommates at Cheshire for many years. He would come to my home for Thanksgiving. My brother passed away 4 1/2 years ago. Mickey and my family stayed in touched. He was a unique and special person. We will deeply miss him.

Batya said...

thank you all so much
I remember Mickey mentioning a good friend who had died.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute Beth. I remember him also when we were young and he would get around on crutches. I only saw him at a few family get togethers and I regret that I did not stay in touch with him as you did. I'm sure your visits and emails brought him great delight.
Love Cousin Susan

Batya said...

Thanks Susan, I hadn't seen him for decades.
I miss you, too!