Another day older and deeper in sweat.

Sorry Merle and Ernie. 

I woke up yesterday and still felt like I was a kid of 74.  When does old age set in?  My day was the simple day of any retiree.  I slept in until 8:30, did some chores, ate breakfast, and took Duke to the vet in Chalchuapa for his rabies shot.  He made friends on the microbus going but was uncomfortably crowded on my lap coming home.  I had a fat lady to share a seat with and the aisle was crowded with shoppers and their bundles.  Just another trip in a yellow sardine can.

When I got home, I could tell that Margarita was in more stomach pain.  It’s hard to get her to rest.  She just feels she has to take care of her family.  María and I are not helpless, and it’s not like Luís and Adrianita are in need of constant vigilance. 

So, after lunch I took them to the park.  I pushed my princess on the swing and chased her up and down the monkey bars.  Luís suggested hide-and-seek and we played that for a while.  There aren’t that many places to hide in our little pocket park. 

We stopped for ice cream on the way home.  The woman who owns the little booth in front of Town Hall, a good Christian woman, said something to Adriana about my being her dad.  She knows our family.  Adri said I was her step-father.  The woman insisted I was her father.  I was happy for the support.  But it’s a different culture.

After a shower, I went to church alone in the late afternoon.  I asked for more prayer for Margarita.  It worries me when she’s not getting better and she won’t see her doctor for another three weeks. 

Last night she was in enough pain to put her to bed crying.  I had a difficult time in Spanish to tell her how I felt about her more concerned about saving us money than getting better care in a private hospital with doctors who are available when you need them.  When you’re not part of the culture, you can’t judge or even translate from the U.S. what kind of relationship she had with the men who fathered her four children.  I tried to tell her that I was a real husband and that I don’t feel I’m doing my duty or keeping my marriage promises when she doesn’t let me get her the best care available.  Just as she won’t let me go out with a dirt spot on my jeans because it would reflect on her as a wife, I feel the same kind of shame when my wife is suffering perhaps needlessly.  She heard me state in church on my birthday that I had no plans to leave a young widow.  She heard me say last night that I have no plans to become a widower either.  As she well knows, people die here of things they wouldn’t in the States.  That scares me.  I’ve seen too much of that in my eleven years in Central America.

So, it was a rough night as I held her and stayed awake as long as I could.  Her sobs had subsided.  I was up early this morning to go grocery shopping in Chalchuapa.  I called from the homeward bound bus to have the kids meet it to help me carry the purchases.  Margarita was walking around slowly.  She had the little ones scrub the potatoes while she cut and washed the chicken legs I’d bought.  We had fried and breaded chicken with rice.  We’d not eaten this well in a while and we all enjoyed the pleasant change.

This afternoon I took Duke for a walk.  We met friends and chatted.  I love El Refugio for that blessing.  On our way home, the man who sells sherbet cones from his bicycle stopped us.  He took out his last cone and I thought he was going to give it to Duke.  I don’t know why.  But he stacked it up with orange and green sherbet and gave it to me.  He bade me good-bye and rode off with my thanks.  A couple of years ago I’d given him $5 when he told me his daughter needed it for the medicine she’d been prescribed.  This kind of love is not found on the streets of Los Angeles.

I’m a Boston Celtics fan.  I learned to love basketball when I coached one of my school’s teams in California.  I’m aware that I’m in my “fourth quarter”.  I look upward at the Scoreboard and see that I’ve come from behind and pulled ahead of the opposition.  I’ve got the “Big Three” on my team, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The headliner on my bench is Margarita.  We’ve got a lot of depth including Faith, Hope, and Love.  So, I’m not worried about the outcome.  I’m not going to slack off or take victory for granted.  I’ll be playing with energy right up to the two-minute warning when it will be time to run out the clock.  There’s a trophy, a golden crown, with my name on it.  Like Paul, I’m torn between taking it into overtime or hearing the victory music. 

To be continued.

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