I was able to have a long chat with Minga on Friday. Ana was home with her, and daughter Teri as well. Minga doesn’t quite get how to hold a cell phone a bit away from her face so I was looking at her forehead or hair or an ear most of the time, but it was a wonderful catch up conversation and visit.
She wants everyone to know she is grateful for all of your prayers and concern, and that on September 24 it will be one year that she is on dialysis. She said she feels pretty good, much better than last year when she was brought to the hospital near death. She sends all of you her love.
Minga is a very social person, as I knew from watching her in the village. She sort of “holds court” on her narrow front concrete patio, where she sits and makes herself available to the neighbors going by and to family who pop in to visit. She chats with the lady selling lottery tickets, the junk man going past collecting old metal, the fish truck driver selling fresh catch, the guy on a bicycle balancing a big stand of bananas on his back, the mothers and grandmothers walking their small children to and from school. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren zoom into the yard on old bikes, or on foot, and zoom back out again.
Minga has now created community with the dialysis patients and their families who come to the public hospital for that 10am Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday slot. It isn’t an easy, convivial environment. People are strung out along a very long, narrow hallway on hard plastic chairs. Many of the actual patients arrive not feeling well; they have a hard time walking up to stand in line when it’s time to go into the dialysis suite. There is no coffee shop, so they aren’t able to bond over a cup of coffee or a meal. But Minga goes up and down the long line of chairs, checking in on people. And they come to her. The nurses and orderlies, who seemed rather formidable and unfriendly when I was with her last year, have come to know her and she says they welcome her warmly when it is her time to go in.
Minga eagerly awaits my January visit; she says it gives her something to look forward to. She doesn’t have women friends to talk over aging with, and she doesn’t read like I do. But she’s figured out the basics all by herself: be social, get exercise — walking to and from the bus and up the stairs to Ana’s apartment make that happen naturally — and have things to anticipate that give meaning to life.
I continue to be amazed at her tranquility and grace.