27 April 2011

Denis Michael Hill (1960-2011)

Denis Michael Hill was born on 6 November 1960 in Cleveland, Ohio.  Denis was the fourth child out of seven children and he is my brother.  Denis was taken from us at the young age of 50.  It is for this reason that I wish to share my brother with you.  Denis did not have an easy life, he was born deaf and with cerebral palsy, but he was a happy guy who enjoyed being around people. 

Denis was born three months premature and weighed only 3 lbs. 3 oz.  He had yellow jaundice as an infant, suffered from convulsions as a toddler, and had the German measles twice.  In 1965, Denis went to the Rosemary Home where he lived for 8 years.  It was there that he learned the basics to dress, eat, play, and swim.  Denis attended St. John School for the Deaf in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1972 to 1976 where he learned sign language.  At the age of 16, Denis returned to his family in Cleveland, Ohio and went to the United Cerebral Palsy Workshop where he learned to do some basic work skills.  The Cleveland Board of Education developed a new work/study program at the Vocational Opportunity Center which he attended from 1980 to 1983.  Denis graduated from the program and attended the commencement ceremonies at Lincoln West High School where he received a special diploma.  He went back to United Cerebral Palsy and entered the adult workshop program where he learned work adjustment training.  Denis worked there until 1990 when he moved to Arizona with his mom, dad, and one sister. 

In Arizona, Denis lived with his parents for awhile before moving into a group home where he worked at various jobs and where he learned some basic home skills such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry.  He also learned basic life skills such as handling money and using public transportation.

Denis passed away on Thursday, 17 March 2011 from thrombosis - a blood clot in his lungs.  It was unexpected and very sudden.  (I still can't believe he's gone.)  My Ohio siblings and I flew to Arizona the next day to be with my parents and attend the funeral.  The day of the funeral was a cold and rainy day and out of sorts from the prior days.  My mother always said bad weather meant the person wasn't ready to leave this earth.  I believe my brother wasn't ready...we definitely weren't ready.  But then something happened at the funeral - Denis gave us a wonderful sign that he was okay.  He gave us a rainbow.

During his life, Denis was a very crafty person and made pencil cups, hot pads, picture frames and jewelry boxes out of popsicle sticks.  He even made a lamp and night light out of popsicle sticks (my dad helped him with the electrical).  My favorite items he made out of popsicle sticks is the sign for "I love you" and a cross.  Denis always enjoyed coloring and found his knack with the felt pictures - he was very good at choosing colors and putting them together.  My parents have quite a few of his pictures hanging in their home. 
Here is a sampling of some of Denis' artwork.  I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoy the items.

Thanks for reading this post about my brother.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susan. Very thoughtful post, it made me cry. I am sorry for your loss, but I am sure Denis enjoyed this very fine tribute.