Panama 2019: Call from Minga

I’m up early to watch the day’s stage of the Tour de France live. I also tape it, so I can watch key parts of the race again later in the day. The best part of any stage is the finish, which often involves a thrilling sprint even after a grueling climb up a mountain like the Alp d’Huez. I’m basically offline re phone calls during those final exciting moments, trusting that I can call pretty much anyone back after the race is over.

Except when Minga calls, or more accurately when her daughter Ana tees up a WhatsApp video call . The call came in right before the sprint and of course I answered. I would have even if I didn’t have the taping feature to look at the sprint to the finish at a later time.

Minga says she is fine, although she again looked very tired to me. She likes living with Ana, who attends to her in a gentle and non-directive manner. Ana’s husband Raoul sees to Minga’s needs as if she were his own mother, which is lovely and touching — not a characteristic of all Panamanian men. Miley, when she is home from school, is devoted to her great grandmother.

Ana says that Minga is having radiografia, which is some sort of scan, to help her doctors adjust the port or catheter in her chest — not sure of the right medical language here — through which she receives dialysis. I can’t get a clear answer whether this is a big problem, or a normal, minor adjustment.

Ana tells me that Miley, who is a sophomore in high school, is committed to going to university when she graduates. This is a huge thing. None of Miley’s birth siblings, and there are eight, have had this opportunity. Nor, I believe, did any of Ana and Raoul’s five children go to college — including Miley’s birth mother Titi.

I’m touched by Ana’s goodness as a human being, taking in an infant granddaughter after raising her own five sons and daughters, taking in her mother now, when Minga most needs care. Ana and Raoul are poor, hard working people. Minga’s other adult offspring are helping, but more with in-kind things like transportation, clothing, and sitting at the hospital on dialysis day, than with cash.

Day by day, and with the help of God.” That’s how Minga and Ana are living through this bittersweet and difficult, but most precious time. I told Ana that I am grateful for her devoted care of my Panamanian sister. She responded that she must, it’s her duty as a daughter. Yes, but it doesn’t always happen, does it? Not in any culture.

I’m quite sure the blue/white matching attire is intentional. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Panama 2019: Call from Minga

  1. for Phyllis: I think it is a very special time for this mother and daughter. For all of the formidable difficulties of dialysis, Minga is enjoying being cared for — likely to a greater extend than ever before in her life. She’s always been a pretty solitary fighter. Now, she has folded herself into the warm embrace of Ana and her family.

  2. for Phyllis: She is. She gets out of dialysis about 4pm, and usually one of the three city family members who have a car — Angel, Manuel, or Ita’s eldest Janelys — is there to pick her up and take her right to Rio Hato. She sleeps in her own bed on Saturday night, is there Sunday and Monday, and someone takes her back very early Tuesday morning for that day’s dialysis. She wanted to try to go home after every treatment, but it proved to be too much. This arrangement seems to be working. Humberto sill lives in that little room at the side of Minga’s house along with Margarita and Nati, and he cooks for Minga.

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