Gloria calls pretty regularly from Panama, at least when she has minutes on her phone card. People in rural Panama all have cell phones, but they don’t buy monthly plans the way that we do. They buy cell phone cards for $1, $3, or $5, and when the money runs out they have no service until they can buy another card.
Much of Gloria’s news is good. Son Gabriel and his family — Fani, Gabrielito, and the new baby Alia — have moved into their new house next to Gloria and Luis, which makes Abuela Gloria very happy. The baby is healthy and seems to have none of the cardiac problems that bedeviled Gabrielito in his first months of life. He is enjoying being a big brother, and is very affectionate with the baby. Eldest son Raoul and Cianni are separated, but they continue to be good parents to Mylenis, who is almost four. Youngest son Luis continues to work security at the Decameron Hotel, and to live with his girlfriend in his room in Gloria and Luis’ house. Papa Luis works at the airport; they are hoping the number of flights increases, so there will be more hours of work.
The not-so-good news is about Gloria’s health. She’s in her mid-40’s, but has just been diagnosed with glaucoma. The public health system doesn’t pay for the eye drops that can control the condition — I’m not sure why — so they are trying to figure out what to do. Gloria also continues to suffer severe muscle aches and pains, for which she’s had many medical visits but no clear diagnosis.
This is Gloria with her grandbaby Mylenis. Behind her to the right is her wheelchair-bound brother, who lived in Panama City but whom Gloria brought to the village so he could be better cared for by his siblings. Gloria has a good heart. She is generous, hard working, and caring. She belies Ben Carson’s pronouncement that poverty is a state of mind, that if only people were more virtuous and worked harder they would climb the economic ladder. Gloria is virtuous, hard working, and stuck.