Darrin's story: How the FCIF helped one family touched by tragedy
Now, just over a year after Darrin's passing, Barbara is only too willing to talk about him and the tragic circumstances that cut short her son's life. There is still sadness, of course. But mostly there is conviction and passion in her voice as she offers thanks to those who reached out to her in her family's time of desperate need. She speaks out now to encourage others to support the folks who supported her: The Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF).
"I just want people to know how much FCIF helped me-and how much they helped Darrin," says Barbara, a native of Texas who now lives in the Southern California city of Mira Loma. "The level of support was amazing. They helped with the medical expenses, they helped pay for a [specially equipped] van for Darrin. And it wasn't a one-time thing. FCIF helped me the entire time."
Barbara says she was unaware of the FCIF at the time of Darrin's accident. She was working in an administrative position at Foamex and heard about the foundation through a manager at her company. Still, as someone who always tried to fend for herself, she was reluctant to ask for assistance. It was only after Darrin's marriage broke up and he came to live with her in 1984 that she contacted the foundation for help.
"I really didn't think I was the type of person who would be eligible for that type of assistance," says Barbara, who has worked virtually her entire career in the flooring industry and regularly attended Surfaces. "I mean I was in kind of a low level job but the people at the FCIF didn't care about that. The only question they asked was ‘How can we help?' "
While some of the expenses were covered by insurance, there was a huge gap that FCIF helped to fill. "It was very, very expensive to care for Darrin. We had to build ramps. We had to have a nurse. But FCIF helped us every step of the way.."
Barbara recalls that although Darrin was confined to a wheelchair, he refused to be idle. Surgery four years after the accident restored some mobility in his hands. He continued attending college ("He got straight A's," beams Barbara with a mother's pride), landed a high-tech job at a computer firm and even prepared the family's tax returns. In 1989, when Barbara married Richard Tedrowe, the groom asked Darrin to be his best man.
In 1990, the family got a scare when Darrin was rushed to the hospital with emergency kidney failure. Although this once highly athletic 6'4" young man dropped to 139 pounds (from about 225 at the time of the accident), he again fought back and survived.
But ultimately the toll of his injury was too great. Darrin passed away in July 2004. He was 43.
His passing, however, did not sever Barbara's ties to the FCIF. Although she had often expressed her gratitude to the foundation though cards and letters and regular updates on her son's condition, Darrin's death has set Barbara on a mission. She now eagerly talks about how her family was aided for nearly two decades by the foundation. She has traveled to industry functions to tell her story and urge people in the flooring industry to help the FCIF.
"Darrin was the kind of son every mother hopes she has," says Barbara, who plans to soon retire to Texas. "He was so quick witted and had such a great sense of humor. Of course he was bitter at first, but he was so positive and handled his disability so well. All the while he was such an important part of our lives. We could not have done it without the FCIF. Now, I just want people to know how much the FCIF helped us."