TB, or Tuberculosis, is a highly contagious disease. It consists of bacterium that attacks the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body. If not treated, it is fatal. It spreads through the air. You may be in a plane, catching a movie, or going to church and be breathing in those little bacteria into your lungs. Usually our antibodies can resist the bacterium, but then there’s always that one time.
As a teacher, I was required to test for it regularly. School children also need to be screened for it as well. Symptoms may include a bad chronic cough, chest pain, coughing up blood, weakness, weight loss, chill, fever, night sweats, and eventually death. It is curable these days, for the most part.
My mother was diagnosed with TB shortly after I was born. In 1950 she was placed in the Maryknoll Hospital in Monrovia, California. My father could not take care of us four kids and work full-time so he sent us off to our God-parents. He stayed in the Imperial Valley working, paying the hospital expenses. My two sisters and I were in Port Hueneme living with our aunt and uncle, my brother was in Oxnard living with our grandmother.
Lonely and feeling helpless, my father sent these post cards almost every day to my mother. To the best of my ability I placed these cards in chronological order.
He would get a copy of a Bugs Bunny comic book and rub the image with his pen onto the postcard. He used his colored pencils to make the images stand out, then drew in the bubbles and added his captions.
He worked in the Imperial Valley for the Irrigation District. An intricate system of canals and ditches, fed by the waters of the Colorado River, turned this broad desert valley into an agricultural paradise. Visiting my mother in Monrovia involved a five hundred mile round trip.
Back then, getting TB was like getting a death sentence. This was his way of trying to keep her spirits up. Robert was my father’s brother, Grace was his wife. They lived in a town on the Mexican side called San Luis on the banks of the Colorado River.
“Hello! How are you doing girl? Thank you for your letter. I am here waiting for you to get out. Shall we take a trip? (a walk?). He had to wait five more years before he got his family back together.