Impact Feature Issue on Stories of Advocacy, Stories of Change from People with Disabilities, Their Families, and Allies (1988-2013)

"I've Seen a Lot of Change"
Cliff Poetz (Part 2, 2013)


Cliff Poetz is Community Liaison at the Research and Training Center on Community Living, University of Minnesota

Vicki Gaylord is Managing Editor of Impact

In this conversation, Cliff Poetz talks about his life today as someone about to turn 65 in 2014.

Q: This year you’ll turn 65. For a lot of people it’s a milestone. Is it for you?

A: I think it’s a milestone for people with disabilities. Some people with disabilities don’t live to be 65 because of their disabilities. I’ve seen a lot of change in my 65 years and there are more to come.

Q: What are some of the changes?

A: The new Vikings stadium has to be ADA accessible. Any new building now has to be ADA accessible. The new light rail line is accessible. That’s a change. When I was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s there were no services in the community for people with disabilities, but there are now. Now people can ask for the services they need, which is good.

Q: Now that you’re almost 65, who do you look up to as being an elder?

A: I would say my older brother because when I was growing up he didn’t over-protect me. My mother and him wanted me to do stuff. They even made sure I went duck hunting one Saturday. And I don’t like doing that kind of stuff. But you’re not going to argue with a brother who’s 6 foot 1.

Q: Do you have any concerns about growing older?

A: Well, not growing older but with what goes with it. Like I went for my physical today and found I’m beginning to get arthritis, and that’s no fun. Then I’m going to have laser surgery for my eye and that won’t be that difficult, but it’ll be three weeks in the nursing home because they’ll have to give me some eye medicine. Other than that, I’m doing well. I recently did my advance directive laying out who has the responsibility for when I die, and my nephew and niece have the power to do that. I told them it’s legal and you need to follow through with that. I want to be buried in St. Stephen’s community cemetery, I want to be cremated, I want to be put in a simple black urn, and be put on the top of my mom and dad’s coffin. My sister’s also buried there. So that would be simple and cheap. I also want the photo that’s in this article of me at the Capitol to be the photo at my service.