Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In memoriam

I met Tanji Dewberry at the Happy Mama Conference -- that is, the conference for mothers of special-needs kids -- last year. I was struck by several things: She was incredibly nice; she'd turned herself into a strong advocate for her son, a little older than my son, who also had ADHD; and man, did she wear amazing shoes.

She was one of the few other New Jerseyans I came across that weekend, and she'd self-published a children's book, "Oh Fiddlesticks!" designed to teach kids how to handle their anger. I was nosy, so I quizzed her on how she'd gotten the book done, how much it had cost, that sort of thing; she readily answered every question. She signed a copy for my son.

On Sunday night, she and her son died in a house fire.

The cause is unclear, though possibly an electrical malfunction. I keep being horrified by this story all over again. She was doing right by her son and trying her best to achieve her dreams, and it is just not right that the two of them are not here anymore.

Over on the Happy Mama Facebook page, there is talk of creating a conference scholarship in her honor. I think that's a nice idea, and should one happen, I'll post any pertinent links. I keep looking for an obituary, for someplace to send a memorial contribution or a card or, I don't know, something. I feel like attention should be paid.

I can't say I knew her well. But she seemed very much worth knowing. And I think this is a tremendous loss.

Incidentally, her book? My kids like it. In fact kiddette asked me to read it to her tonight.

I'm glad I bought it when I had the chance.

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