By MOLLY WALSH!
IF you are old enough. and if you lived in London in 1928, you will probably remember a day in January of that year when Londoners slid, skidded, and skated to work, a goodly proportion breaking limbs in the process.
On that day Vera Dean made a very unceremonious entrance into the world. The result of her abrupt entry was that her active mind and higher than average intelligence were imprisoned in a body which her brain could not control. She Was. in other words, a victim of cerebral palsy, a spastic.
At the time of her birth, very little was known about this condition. Its victims were considered to be mentally defective, and, before she was five, Vera's parents were told that nothing more could be done for the child.
HER childhood was as happy as
it could be in the circumstances; her family loved and cared for her, and did all that was possible in the limited state of their knowledge to overcome her disability. In 1940, the death of her father and the exigencies of war caused her to be sent to a hospital for incurables.
-I his turned out to be not the
unmitigated tragedy that if appeared at the time, for it was in hospital that she met Mrs. Collis. who was trying to lind a way to help the cerebral palsied in England, having studied • the advances which were being made in America. So at the age of 15, on January 1, 1943. Vera began the long uphill struggle to overcome her disability.
In "Three Steps Forward" (Faber & Faber, 15s.), Vera Dean has written an account of her struggles and victories, as well as the incidental setbacks and tears. 'Ilse fact that in 1943 she could not hold a pen, had not learnt to read or write. and could scarcely even make herself understood. and that now in 1957 she has published this book, written and typed by herself, is a measure of her victory.
PARTY GAMES HAVING a New Year's Eve
party ? " The Year and our Children " again supplies a wealth of ideas for making it tit the season. How about a game of "Thanks," for example ? Each member brings some token symbolising a blessing received during the year, and the rest of the party guesses what they mean.
A doll could represent thanksgiving for a baby, a tiny car that someone has at last achieved the ambition to own a car. A swimming certificate is easily guessed. A book means that a child who found it difficult to learn to read now reads easily. A bag of peanuts represents a much enjoyed trip to the zoo. These arc NIrs. Newland's examples. What would yours include ? Mine would include two houses to represent the two houses, bought during the year by two generous women, which are now housing five London families who before existed in hopeless misery.
This is in addition to those who have been helped to buy their own houses on mortgage with the help of the Catholic Housing Aid Society. The wonderful response to Douglas Hyde's appeal will account for several more.
Or how about rhymed resolutions sung to the tune of " I want to be ready to walk in Jerusalem, just like John " ? Mummy's resolution: "If I keep calm, be patient and good, 111 he forever in a heavenly mood," and Daddy's: "If I don't shout or roar or groan, I'll sing forever in a heavenly tone.
ALTHOUGH it is only a slim
volume and costs 21s., "Linen Embroidery," written by Etta Campbell and published by Batsford, would be a worth-while investment for someone who loves fine needlework. Miss Campbell's large variety of stitches arc beautifully illustrated by diagrams.
She says that the least experienced of needlewomen can easily become proficient at this type of work. She also recommends it as having a most excellent therapeutic effect: "I firmly believe that an hour a day spent at this type of work will act as a tonic, as well as giving an added interest to everyday life."
Cures for tiredness are still coming in. 1 liked this one, brief and to the point: " As the mother of seven children under nine years old. I lind the only solution for tiredness is to have another baby and then sit down and nurse it."
AS this is the last issue of THE.
CATHOLIC HERALD for 1957, I should like to thank all my readers without whose constant help and inspiration this column would never be written.
I thank you for all your suggestions for talking points, for your lively follow-ups," for the letters of appreciation which always seem to come at such a timely moment, for your gentle criticisms which always begin so apologetically — I welcome them very much.
I realise the difficulties under which many of you write — how many of your letters apologise for the thread of thought broken whilst pencils and papers are found for the toddlers, and I love the squiggles which the babies insist on adding.
Thank you, also, to the family groups, formal and informal, who. have invited me to their discussions and have not objected when I have used the material of their discussions for talking points. Thank you for the messages which I have received from my husband when he has been to different parts of the country; it almost reconciles me to being a Catholic Action widow !
Thank you, God bless you, Happy New Year, and what shall we talk about in 1958,