Leo Traynor on The day I confronted my troll.
Then one day something happened that truly frightened me. I don't scare easily but this was vile.
I received a parcel at my home address. Nothing unusual there – I get lots of post. I ripped it open and there was a Tupperware lunchbox inside full of ashes. There was a note included, saying, "Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz". I was physically sick.
I was petrified. They had my address. I reported it to the authorities and hoped for the best.
Two days later I opened my front door and there was a bunch of dead flowers with my wife's old Twitter username on it. Then that night I received a DM. "You'll get home some day & ur bitches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone."
I got on to the authorities again but, polite and sympathetic as they were, there didn't seem much that could be done.
Forty years ago, long before the recent afternoon when Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky knelt at the warped feet of his 4-year-old patient, he was a small-town teenager approaching his Catholic confirmation and needing to select a patron saint. He made an unlikely choice, a newly canonized figure, St. Martin de Porres, the illegitimate child of a former black slave in 16th-century Peru. Back then, in the early 1970s, as the child of a factory worker and a homemaker, Joseph had no aspiration toward medicine. Nor did he know that Martin de Porres had been elevated to sainthood in part because of his healing miracles.
Decades later, something — call it coincidence, call it providence — has bent the vectors of faith and science together in the career of Dr. Dutkowsky. The confluence of these often-clashing ideals has taken him to the top of his profession as an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the care of children disabled from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down's' syndrome and other afflictions. It has also taken him to the healing shrine of Lourdes and to the Lima barrio where his patron saint tended to the poor and broken and cast out.
“This is my ministry,” said Dr. Dutkowsky, 56. “Some people stand next to the ocean to feel the presence of God. I get to see the likeness of God every day. I see children with some amazing deformities. But God doesn’t make mistakes. So they are the image.”
“We have a culture that’s addicted to perfection,” Dr. Dutkowsky said later. “We’re willing to spend thousands of dollars to achieve it. The people I care for are imperfect. And I can’t make them perfect. I only hope that they can sense that I actually care they’re more than skin and bones, that we have a bond.”
“For years, when asked why I chose this profession, I had no good answer,” he said, “until I came upon the first chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus and his disciples come upon a man who was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, ‘Did this man or his parents sin that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered that the blindness was not the result of the man or his parents’ sin. The man was born blind ‘so the glory of God might be revealed.’ Every day in my work I find myself in the revealed glory of God.”
Sarah Hoyt remembers an electrifying moment when she was 16. Nerves
Until their people were in full control of the government, the two TV channels from Lisbon (years later they changed it so the second channel was from Porto, but not then) would be off the air, and the station from Porto would bring out Green Acres which in their minds kept the populace calm until they heard what came next.Posted by Jill Fallon at October 19, 2012 1:42 PM | Permalink
To this day I hear “Green Acres” and I cringe and every muscle in my body tenses.
Our group couldn’t get permission for a demonstration. It wouldn’t be granted. BUT a demonstration was people assembling and making speeches and yelling. So word went out. Absolute silence. And a route to walk, from the center of town to the military installation on the other side of the city.
It was the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen. I’d never have believed it till I saw it. At twenty two I tried to describe it to my husband and I failed.
Organized is not experienced. Being sixteen, I was recruited with another young person – a young man I didn’t know – to hold each end of a HUGE banner that said “The youth of Portugal demands liberty.” Or something to that effect — it’s hard to remember these many years later.
They hadn’t punched holes in the fabric. The drizzle was wind-driven. As we started marching towards the military quarters, the wind pulled on the banner and about broke our arms. But we held it up. And we walked. Thousands of people. In silence.
There was a … movement. And there I was in the front. The silent crowd behind us. The men with scary machine guns in front of us. Pointed at us.
If we’d run, what would have happened?
I’m no braver than the next person. I wanted to run. But I had a vivid idea we’d be shot in the back. I still think that might have been right.
Because we held the adults couldn’t run away. The crowd held.