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Some are born with good luck. But I was 30 years old before Lady Luck smiled on me with full radiance, arriving in the form of a petite bundle of feistiness, smarts, political savviness, warmth, playfulness, and all-around beauty… named Susan DeMarco.

I apologize for turning inward for a personal commentary today, but DeMarco (as she’s called by all who’ve known her) is an admirable example of the virtue of citizen activism – unsung heroes and heroines standing up for the Common Good. She’s been a teacher, leader of public-interest groups, investigative journalist, author of three books, government official, public policy innovator, mentor, and lifelong champion of economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity for all. In other words, as one activist put it, “She’s a firecracker.”

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Alas, though, on the first of April, DeMarco slipped away from me and all who loved her. I was alone with her when she drew her last breath, 18 hours after I asked the hospital to honor her previously-written directive that all life-support tubes be removed from her body. Crushingly sad, of course, yet deeply rewarding, for she not only outmaneuvered the blood clot that had slammed into her brain, but also our society’s high-tech medical imperative that she be held captive in her own severely damaged body.

And how very DeMarco that she managed to “fly away” on the 1st, which, ironically, was both Easter Sunday and April Fools’ Day!

This is Jim Hightower saying… Above all, DeMarco was a free spirit – full of life, curiosity, and imagination. For example, she delighted in the diversity of birds that populated her big South Austin yard, and she often had magical dreams of flying with them. She even imagined her final exit as a joyous, avian-like experience – as expressed in an old, uplifting gospel song she liked: “I’ll Fly Away.” And that’s just what she did.

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