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WHO Goodwill Ambassador's Newsletter For The Elimination Of Leprosy


Ed holds the photo of his mother on the day he received it.

“Before I leave this Earth, I want to see a picture of my mother.”

That was the emotional wish Edward Weight expressed to his wife, Naomi, many times over. Ed was born in Kalaupapa in 1930. Because of government policies he was immediately taken from his parents and placed in a nursery at Kalaupapa, then later sent to an orphanage on Oahu. From there, he lived in a series of foster homes.

Ed never knew his parents, Harold Weight and Marcia Ka-ne, who were both sent to Kalaupapa because they were diagnosed with leprosy. He eventually found a photograph of his father, but could not find one of his mother despite years of searching.

In the summer of 2011, Naomi Weight saw a notice about the work of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa in helping families find their ancestors at Kalaupapa. She called the phone number listed and, within days, the ‘Ohana had located a photograph of Ed’s mother. The ‘Ohana also located another photo of his father and of his grandmother, Stella Waiamau, who he never knew was at Kalaupapa.

When Ed held the picture of his mother in his hands for the first time, he felt a piece of him missing for so long had been restored.

“She was a dream,” he said during an interview with this writer a few months later. “I stared at her photo for the longest time. I talked to her for a while. I couldn’t believe it, that I finally found my Mom.”

Ed said he talked to his mother “about everything and anything. To say something to my Mom that I never did. I love her, love her.”

A month later, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa invited Ed to join them for their annual gathering at Kalaupapa where he met other descendants who told their stories of reconnecting to their Kalaupapa ancestors.

“It was like having a big family gathering together, sharing each other’s stories and sorrows,” he remembered. “I hope (the ‘Ohana) continues. I think it’s great for all of us to get together like we did, that was the greatest.”

Ed and Naomi named their eldest daughter for Ed’s mother and called her Marci for short. Marci Weight Lyons has now become a leader of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.

The family of Ed Weight gathers on the porch of the Kalaupapa home where his parents lived.

“Even when I had not seen a picture of my grandmother, I was honored to have her name because we knew so little of my father’s history,” said Marci. “Now that I see her, I am still getting used to having a face for her. I’m glad my Dad has her for his identity. I’m glad I have her name. I connect with her eyes, I wish I knew her. I’d like to think we’re kind of alike.

Ed died December 7, 2014, barely three years after he had seen a photo of his mother for the first time. His family received permission to have his ashes buried at the graves of the parents he never knew at Kalaupapa. It was another of Ed’s last wishes.

“He was separated from his parents in life so he wanted to be with them for eternity,” said Naomi Weight.