Panama 2018: Welcoming Committee

Once we did clear Customs and Immigration, Lynn and I emerged to a full-on welcoming party. Sally and Michael had arrived from Boston earlier and were already checked into the hotel, along with Lily. We were also joined by Ana and her granddaughter Miley and Miley’s brother Cesar, Minga’s son Manuel, his wife Lely and their daughter Hazel, Minga’s son Angel and his partner Magnolia. I invited them all back to the hotel for pizza, and we talked about Minga, her life and death, my time in the Peace Corps. I had Google photo books made for each of them, as a memento of Minga.

From left: 11 year old Hazel, Lely, Manuel, Pam, Lynn, Angel, Magnolia, Ana, Cesar, Miley, Sally, and Michael. Sally has been here for each of the ten years that I’ve come to Panama; she and Minga loved each other dearly.

The hotel people knew Minga as well, and several of them asked for her when we arrived. When they set up a large table for us in the restaurant, the server set a place without a chair, to leave room for Minga’s wheelchair. She thought Minga was with us, and would be coming down from her room. Poignant.

Over dinner we did what people do when someone has died: they each recounted for me where he or she was when Minga had her fatal collapse, what they did, whether they could get to the hospital or not, how they felt now.  Ana says she still can’t believe her mother is gone.

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