God Bless Us Everyone… with Hemophilia
Doug and I saw a local live performance Friday night of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It was wonderful! A classic story about a greedy old man who spends his whole life counting his money, living frugally and sharing his wealth with no one. The story is about his visit Christmas Eve by three ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. Really four, if you include the ghost of Jacob Marley, his business partner in life, who first comes to warn him of the coming apparitions.
It’s a brillant story, and a metaphor for life. What is most important? Who do we most care about, and why? What will be our legacy when we die?
In the story, the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to the house of his employee, the long-suffering Bob Cratchit, who has a son with a mysterious illness. The illness is never disclosed, but we see its symptoms: a crutch, crippling, limping, pain. And when shown the future, little “Tiny Tim” does not survive.
Every time I watch this now, I wonder: could Tiny Tim have had hemophilia?
It’s not far-fetched. In 1859, Tiny Tim inhabited London when Queen Victoria’s son Leopold did (born in 1853), and he had hemophilia. But Tim’s condition was never disclosed. He didn’t have a cough (denoting tuberculosis, common at the time), or any other pain.
I’m going to imagine he did have it; and thanks to Scrooge’s transformation to a benefactor, Tim got medical care, nutrition, support and grew up. Of course, they did not have commercial factor. But even Leopold lived to his early 30s without it.
To those with hemophilia then and now, in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one!” And happy holidays!
A Christmas Carol has never been out of print, and is one of the most enduring, powerful stories in English literature.