On the Passing of a Parent who Handled his Daughter like a Jewel

March 20, 2016

As a pediatrician for 30 plus years I have been filled with the lives of babies and children. I was lucky to play and interact with children in my office daily and help them stay healthy and grow up. Many of them are adults and I hear from them or their parents about how they have turned out. I feel old which is the usual story with pediatricians, but I am so grateful for my specialty and the life cycle shared with children. What was truly remarkable as an adoption medicine specialist was that I met loving adults who in many cases remarried and started families late in life and were remarkable parents. I learned so much from them.

Shawn Elliott was such a parent. He died on March 11, 2016 after a fierce battle with cancer. Donna Murphy, his wife, shared the mighty struggle with friends and family and I found her writing remarkable and actually a gift to all of us. As hard as it was to read, it was about courage, and devotion and grace. Darmia, their daughter was a trooper and she like most children, showed us through her resiliency, the way to peace if there is ever peace in loss....I guess there has to be finally. Donna and Shawn attended many WWO galas over the years and Donna Murphy, Tony award winner, was generous with her time entertaining the guests.

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Shawn and Darmia

I loved Shawn as a father/parent. He came to the office many times alone with Darmia in a carrier and then in a stroller and then walking hand in hand. He was her companion, buddy, pal, and finally her protector. He had two daughters from a prior life who were fully engaged with Darmia and he was sage in my opinion. He disagreed with me on a number of issues very diplomatically and I respected and liked him for that.

What I loved about him was how he held Darmia both physically as well as emotionally. She was a delicate jewel...a flower....a human child who he adored and wanted to parent with all his best inclinations; I watched the video of his TV, movie, and theater work at the memorial luncheon and was reminded that he could have made a parenting film or even taught a class about parenting. It would have had a remarkable impact on all of us. He would have been learned, humorous, and compassionate as he was in so many of his roles on stage. He likely inspired many adults in his sphere because I am betting we all saw this if we were fortunate enough to see him be Darmia's father.

All my love, Shawn.

Dr. Jane Aronson, pediatrician and parent in training forever