When my son was born (more than 19 years ago), I was living in San Francisco, and a new epidemic was sweeping the city - AIDS. I was managing a large apartment complex of 3 buildings and 108 units on Lombard Street just three blocks from the famous zig-zag block. My assistant manager, Ginger, was a very interesting woman who was very active in the gay community. Her mother was a costumer on Broadway, and had come to San Francisco to visit for a couple of months. She was making a Maleficent costume for a man Ginger knew who was dying of AIDS. One of his last wishes was to dress as Maleficent for a costume ball that he had attended every year for many years. He knew this year would be his last, and Ginger wanted it to be the best ever for him. One night, he was at Ginger's apartment for a costume fitting, when I brought my brand new baby over to see Ginger. My 3 year old daughter used to call Ginger "Girlfriend" and they got along famously. He was oohhhing and aahhhing over the baby, and I held the baby out to him and asked if he wanted to hold him. He took the baby gently, rocked him and sang to him. There were tears in his eyes as he handed the baby back to me and told me that ever since he had gotten sick, his family had shunned him. They were afraid that if they touched him or were in the room with him, they would catch "The Gay Plague". He thanked me for making him feel like a normal person and letting him hold my baby. He said it was the kindest thing anyone had done for him in a very long time.
Later, Ginger told me that when the night of the costume ball came, he was too sick and weak to wear the magnificent costume her mother made. She also told me that the night I let him hold my baby was one of the last things he talked about before he slipped away. I do not know his name, but it is in his memory that I lit a candle. Bristol Meyers Squibb is donating $1 to The National AIDS Fund for every candle that is lit at their website. It doesn't cost you anything, just a moment of your time. Light a candle, spread the word.