She had one leg shorter than the other. Not in such a glaringly obvious way that one would immediately notice, but you could tell if you studied her walk or she pointed it out to you, like she did to me when I was little.
I couldn’t fully understand the story as a child, but my mother had contracted Polio when she was around three years old, and almost died. I remember that part because she had two names. Mildred was the name she was given at birth, and Goldie was the name she was re-named after she had recovered, as is customary in the case of near death experiences in the Jewish religion.
By the time I was born, the Polio vaccine had been developed and was administered widely to children in the United States. Polio was nearly eradicated in this country by then, and so the story of my mother’s near death from Polio became to me a long-ago folk tale from her childhood.
Sadly, that has not been the case for the rest of the world. Sure the numbers have dropped 99% since 1988 when there were 350,000 known cases around the world, to the 218 reported cases in 2012. Still, the fact is, that as long as Polio remains in even one child, children the world over are at risk of contracting the disease. The victims of the highly infectious Poliomyelitis virus that attacks the nervous system are usually children younger than five years old.