January 1997

 

Dear friends, colleagues, and family:

Well, here it is at last: Irv's book of short stories. In August 1994, just a few months before he died, Irv jotted down a table of contents, with 21 of his own short stories in four groupings. I knew he had done this, although it was only recently that I found the four precious pages in his unmistakable scrawl. So here is yet another way that Irv comes into our lives. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I and others already have.

Irv's books and papers are currently housed at the Howe Library in Waltham, Massachusetts, courtesy of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation. They are open to the public, but please call the librarian ahead of time, if you would like to visit. Gunnar and Rosemary Dybwad also have their books and papers housed at the same location.

For the moment, I am "self-publishing" this collection. If you would like additional books, please send $10 per copy to me at the address below. Checks should be made out to either "Friends of Howe Library" or "Boston Self Help Center" - the two organizations that will benefit from any sales of this book.

For those of you who knew Irv, may your images of him remain alive and well. I treasure my own memories of Irv, especially his countless gestures of love and friendship that helped to make this world a better place for all. In the following vignette, Harvey Liebergott has recaptured beautifully the essence that was - and still is - Irv:

 

The last time I saw Irv was a few months ago, on a plane from Washington. I was the second person through the gate, about fifty feet behind a flight attendant pushing a wheel chair. I was about ten feet behind Irv, when he got up from the chair and started to make his way onto the plane. I was just beside the three flight attendants in the galley when Irv reached the first seats. As boorishly as I could, I made a shocking demand, "Could someone move that man out of my way!" The flight attendants gasped, in audible disapproval. Irv either recognized my voice or grasped the situation so quickly that he did not have to adjust. He roared with laughter, threw his canes on the front seat, and turned and embraced me in a bear hug. "I'm in first class today," he said. "They put me right here."

"You're first class everyday," I replied. "I got upgraded to sit with you." As you might imagine, the flight attendants were greatly relieved. The flight was delayed for about half an hour. And it was like the times we got caught in traffic when we were trying to set up the rehab hospital in Rhode Island; instead of chafing at the wait, I enjoyed every extra minute. We talked about my office and my life, the movement, and how we might see each other, when Irv started to consult with NIDRR . . . everything I needed.

One of his most endearing and extraordinary characteristics was that he did not consider himself extraordinary. He always had a story about some other person, who was wise, or witty, caring, creative, committed, funny, tough. But he captured all of those attributes in one. I always wanted to introduce him to an audience as a "banana split."

 

Finally, a special thank-you to Suzanne Burns, Tricia Cooper, Mary Fillmore, and Phil Zuckerman, for their help with the preparation of this manuscript.

 

Judy Norsigian (Irv's wife) 

email: judy@bwhbc.org

address: Judy Norsigian
Our Bodies Ourselves
34 Plympton Street
Boston, MA  02118

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