Friday, February 22, 2013

Hot Off the Press

Fridays between 1 and 2:30 about fifty of us gather to consider the news. Hot topics at the current events weekly meeting today in ye olde retirement community were sequestration, the 50 year anniversary of the Feminine Mystique, and the new test promising to nip leprosy in the bud. One can't say we don't have a wide range of interests. I raised my hand to speak on the horror of women loosing abortion rights in four states but was never called on.
The leprosy test was news to me (NYTimes). Its a simple test, requiring only one drop of blood, developed by American researchers and registered by a Brazilian drug  regulatory agency. The price will be $1 or less. If early diagnosis is achieved, a cure can take place in six months or less, eliminating the awful stigma and disfigurement.  Annually 250,00 people in the world are newly diagnosed with leprosy, formally called Hansen's Disease.  Brazil and India are the worst. One time my sister and I took the mule ride down the cliff in Molokai to tour the leper colony.  It was scary, (the mule ride) and depressing (the patients).
I think of my roots  as distinguished by clever and fairly intelligent individuals, but so poor on both sides they never had much education and therefore amounted to little. I guess survival was the goal. I'm pretty sure my fraternal grandfather was a horse thief, not to mention womanizer.
The one exception is my cousin Dorothy Clarke Wilson, who died in 2003. When my dad was a young teenager he and his sibs were sent to Maine to live with an aunt and uncle, a harsh Methodist minister who had no children. My dad ran away at 14, hopping the rails back to Colorado. Years later the Clarke's had one girl, Dorothy. I was in my fifties when I first met her.  Dorothy went to Bates and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. As a minister's wife she had little money, but she became a playwright and an author, and a quite famous one. I adored her from the first moment we met. Today after the meeting I searched my shelves for her book on leprosy, Ten Fingers of God, the story of Dr. Stephen Brand, but could not find it.  For her research she travelled alone to India twice. What courage. I knew Dorothy too briefly, but she touched my heart and my soul.  I hope I have a few of her genes. She would be ecstatic to learn of the new test.

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