RIP Michael “Claw” Paul (1960-2014)

Claw with me and Miriam
Michael with me and Miriam

I just found out today that my friend Michael Paul has died. I was shocked and saddened, but not surprised. Michael was born with congenital defects to his heart and hand. He had many surgeries to correct these defects, but they left him with a weakened heart and a three-fingered hand (thus the nickname).

He was a good friend to me and my late wife Miriam during our time at Wayne State and afterwards. We went on many outings together, and I will always remember his sense of humor about his disability, and how he shook my hand the first time we meant with his malformed hand, to see if it would make me uncomfortable. To be honest, it did, briefly, but I quickly understood it was a test of my ability to accept him. And accept him I did. He was a genuine, honest, and hard-working soul, putting himself through grad school working at night as a parking lot cleaner or snow-plow driver, depending on the season.

After graduating, he became a social worker, working at the Center for Independent Living. He helped many people get their lives together despite their own disabilities. He was a good man, working towards the benefit of others.

I admired him greatly. The world will be a poorer place without you, my friend. I’m sorry you had to go so young.

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