Paul was a remarkable man; inspiration and special friend to many of us. He was a person with many talents: he was a great listener and had a gift for articulating ideas in a succinct and moving way; he was a great motivator; he had a great sense of humour; he thought of others ahead of himself; and he had the big picture in mind. Because of his many attributes, he was invited to speak at numerous international events, including South Africa, Ireland, Israel, and Peru.
All around the world he was a strong advocate for people with disabilities, especially those who needed a different way to communicate. While visiting an orphanage in Peru, Paul instinctively knew what to say and how to act. He got right down on the floor with them and used gestures. They loved him and followed him like little ducklings following the mother duck. He even played soccer with them when they invited him to be the goalie.
The conference audience of 300 in Peru was interested in the professionals’ presentations and took dutiful notes, but you could hear a pin drop when Paul got up to speak. They were enthralled by his stories and his style. After his presentation, they gathered around him like paparazzi! Paul’s presence and his inspirational message enabled the audience to see the true benefits of AAC. Until then, they didn’t understand why teach AAC to kids who didn’t speak. They took it to heart when he shared, “The doctors told my parents I would never walk or do anything with my life… Don’t get too focused putting limitations on a life that needs to be developed and cultivated differently.”
Paul was positive, optimistic and so eloquent. When articulating his feeling about communication to the media, he was quoted as saying, “For many of us who use some form of AAC to “talk”, we really know the true value of being able to communicate, it is just fantastic and so wonderful. It pumps life into our souls so they can soar!”
His message of optimism and resilience lives on in his poem:
Making My Disability Count Beyond My Life
(c) Paul L.C. Marshall
From a boy growing up on a farm to a man behind a keyboard, I was able to soar beyond my disability.
I know the great feeling of turning over a field in the spring to be planted for a fall harvest.
I know the great feeling of helping people by being a spark that influences positive change in others who are dealing with disabilities.
Yes, my life has been hugely blessed beyond measure!
As you are reading this, be thankful and be thinking of your own power to enrich and empower everyone that you touch.
Be that amazing rainbow that breaks through people’s storms.
Be that ear that hears breaking hearts.
Be that voice – that word that brings hope and restores people!
Dare to step out and be a tool that God can use.
Life is much greater and larger than my life!
Therefore, let your life count, to lead the weak to be strong.
My life will have a sunset – maybe today or tomorrow.
I am human.
I have an end.
Until then, let my disability count, and may others gain by knowing the real me without any limitations.
Make our disabilities count in others’ lives.