A dear friend has just returned from visiting her 96 year old mother-in-law. The elderly woman has had pneumonia, but is recovering. Her doctors say that for her age, she’s in quite good health and can indeed recover her energy and quality of life. But all the woman wants to do now is die. My friend went in an attempt, mostly unsuccessful, to help her mother-in-law recover the will to live.
The story made me think about Minga. Before I went in November of 2018, I’d had intimations that Minga was growing tired of her dialysis regimen, and the attendant pains and indignities that went with it — like the severe leg cramping that made it hard to walk even a few steps. Who wants to be carried to the toilet, and carried back to a chair or bed? I suspect Minga would have thought that giving up on life was a sin. But I also suspect she was wondering with no small amount of apprehension what the next months and years, if she lived that long, held in store for her.
When I arrived in Panama City, I found her ebullient, happy to see me and eager to be part of whatever I proposed. She seemed full of energy. As regular readers of the blog know from pictures, we went to the mall. We visited Amador Causeway to see the ships ready to transit the Canal. We went to a dinner theater with folkloric dance. We took a drive around Panama City to see all the new buildings and neighborhoods she hadn’t visited in years. We went to the roof deck of the hotel, with its gorgeous view of Panama City, and talked while Miley and her friends splashed around in the pool. We savored the hotel buffet, with more of a variety of foods than Minga was used to, and a dessert table with bite-sized sweets that seemed manageable even on her restricted diet.
Then I returned home, and five days later she died. I don’t think for a moment that Minga caused her brain bleed. But I’m wondering about the arc of her reportedly growing tired and listless, the big resurgence of energy, then death.
Maybe, like my friend’s mother-in-law, a body knows.