How I Learned of the First Historical Real-life Zombies

Lepers were once shunned and even exiled to an island where they were left alone to die. In advanced stages, they looked like zombies. Though I got teased for my name Damien growing up, I was named ater a priest who went to them out of love.

This post is in response to: Mama Kat’s Writing Challenge.

 Sometime around 1977
Bully: You’re the son of the devil! Let’s check for the 666 tattoo on his scalp!
Me: Get away! I’m no son of no devil. My name is Damien because I was named after a priest!
Bully: No, we seen the movie, you’re Damien the son of the devil in The Omen
Me: No, my parents named me after Fr. Joseph Damien de Veuster who exiled himself to care for lepers.

This was a common dialog I would have throughout my school aged life. Movies have a power influence on names. For example, I share a brotherhood with those named Jason and Freddy. But my named really is derived from a benificent history. When I’d complain to my om about my name after scenes like this, she would remind me of my name’s true origin. The priest I was named after went to live voluntarily with a leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. He wanted to share the hope of heaven with these dying people. At the end of his life, he succumbed to the zombie-like disease himself.

Leprosy still exists and there is still no cure. However, it isn’t a virus but rather simply a killing of nerve endings. People bang their elbows and feet against corners but instead of recoiling in pain as the normal body does, lepers feel no pain and the bruises and breaks just get infected causing fingers and even limps to fall off. You might see them as zombies but inside they are perfectly human, dreaming and liing like normal people. I’m proud that I was named after Fr. Damien, thanks mom. I only wish I had a time machine to go back in time and tell my young self to chill out and that one day his name would be an asset setting him apart from the teeming throng.

In my home now, we enjoy sharing the history of our kids’ names with them.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Home Turf.”

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