Panama 2018: Mileybus and Minga

Mileybus is Minga’s great-granddaughter. For those of you interested in the family tree, Minga’s eldest daughter Ana is the mother of Titi, who is the actual mother of Miley. Titi lives in Rio Hato and has a large family — you can practically date when birth control became widely available by the size of the families in this generation. Miley is the youngest. Ana and her husband Raoul have raised Miley since she was born, and Miley calls Ana “Mama”. Miley does know that Titi is her mother, and that all the kids in that family are siblings. She visits when Ana and she are in the village. Miley is already an aunt. One of her elder sisters, Joelis, lives in the village and has a young baby.

Ana and Raoul and Miley live in Panama City, where Miley has won a scholarship to a private high school.

Miley is celebrating her quinceaneros in May, a very big coming of age for young women in Latino culture. Ana, a skilled seamstress, is making her dress — pics are promised. Miley will have a small party, not the huge, expensive event typically hosted by wealthy families. She is excited to host her friends.

They called yesterday on WhatsUp so that I could wish Miley happy birthday, they could wish the same for me, and Minga and I could talk. Minga wants to know when I am coming — she hopes it is before next January. She is managing her 3x weekly dialysis and is happy living with Ana and her family during the week — apparently going home to the village after every treatment has proven to be too hard.  I’m glad Minga had the chance to try. She wants to tell me again, face to face, what dialysis is like.

We talk about what is central to our lives. Right now, that 3x weekly dialysis that lasts all day and leaves Minga exhausted and dizzy is the most consuming part of her week. No surprise that she wants to be heard on what it’s like. And no surprise that I will make every effort to go, hold her hands while she talks, and listen.

Miley is taller than most young women in Panama, and Minga is tiny — getting more so all the time.

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