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On-line version ISSN 1806-4841
An. Bras. Dermatol. vol.85 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Jan./Feb. 2010
Maria Ester Massara Café
Santa Luzia is a town in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte whose origins date back to the end of the 17th century, when reminiscent scouts, called bandeirantes, from a South American slave-hunting expedition under the leadership of Borba Gato, founded a village at the margin of Rio das Velhas, at the time abundant in alluvial gold. Despite being near the capital city, Santa Luzia kept its countryside essence, with its traditions such as hospitality and religious fervor, especially to the Saint the city was named after and that lends it the peaceful and discreet characteristics of its people; intimate conversations with precious friends; the high regard for friendships; good principles and rectitude of character; the kitchen as the most important room in the house; the serenades in colonial houses, and the cheerful spirit of a healthy bohemia.
Born on September 6 of 1956, in Santa Luzia, Ester cultivated all these deep-rooted qualities throughout her life. These indelible qualities make up exceptional individuals - illuminated, incomparable, and rare to find.
She graduated in 1980 from the Faculty of Medicine at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG). In 1983, at the same institution, she concluded her medical residency in Dermatology. In 1990, she completed her master's degree with her dissertation titled "Cutaneous manifestations in patients with positive serology for HIV". She fulfilled her academic duties as Preceptor of Residency in Dermatology at Santa Casa de Belo Horizonte.
She was the most mineira of all dermatologists because she walked with courage and freedom among the young and the old, and the various tendencies of the specialty. She administered conflicts and quarrels with great competence and without making unnecessary concessions. She was a 'firefighter' when necessary and an 'incendiary' when the situation demanded. She was a pioneer in the inclusion of Medical Ethics topics in conferences and sessions, as well as in the consideration of discussions about medical errors. Her career as a member of several societies was without precedents, since she held several positions in the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (regional and national), Medical Association of Minas Gerais, Regional Council of Medicine and Medicine Academy of Minas Gerais.
She lived an intense, full, and spontaneous life. She lived all of her days, one at a time, not as if they were the last, but as if they were the only ones. She traveled the world and visited more often than not diving spots, her favorite pastime. She dutifully performed all her activities with great passion and dedication - in sports, cheering for her soccer team, Cruzeiro (perhaps her only lapse, but a small and thus forgivable one), in the difficult and compassionate practice of patient-centered Medicine or in her domestic life with her spouse Fernando. Perhaps because she kept all the characteristic traits of her cherished countryside, Ester was like this: of the world, but also of the countryside; of the fine restaurant, but also of Mercado Central Botequim ; of the devoted treatment to the wealthy patient, but also to the indigent. Paradoxical? Of course not. In Ester's universe of feelings, directed by infinite kindness, there was a place for everything and for everyone.
It is typical in situations like this to resort to old clichés such as the 'difficult void to be filled', the 'infinite vacuum', and the 'premature death'. None of these apply to Ester. Definitely, Ester was not an ordinary person. She was simply and totally her, Ester. Authentic. And she didn't need introductions, labels, and adjectives. It was not agreed, however, that she would leave us this way.
Unquestionably, life is utterly incoherent.
Associate Professor of Dermatology at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) - Belo Horizonte (MG), Brazil