That Minga, an illiterate woman from a small village in rural Panama, and I would have ever met, much less formed a friendship and deep emotional bond, is quite a random event. There are very few sets of circumstances — Peace Corps volunteer service being one — that would have led to our paths crossing.
But cross they did, and Minga became one of the emotional anchors of my life. There were others, primarily women — Bern, Alice — who served that role for decades, and have died within the last few years. As Minga’s health worsens, I have to face the likelihood that she too will die much sooner than I had hoped.
In our 70’s we become “the elders”, the emotional anchors for people younger than we are — but we do so while losing our own deep structures of support.
I’m not sure I ever really thought about that before.