One of my first stops on our trip to Panamá was a visit to the new hospital in Aguadulce to visit my grandmother, Mamacita. Mamacita is very, very sick. She has been in poor health for many years but last November, she was one of the Panamanians who took some poisoned medicine and has been on a downhill cycle ever since. She was hospitalized in November and then was sent home a few weeks later. About 4 weeks ago she was hospitalized again.
When I visited her I was in shock. I brought my camera along because I wanted to take one last picture of her to remember her by. I was not prepared for what I encountered. My grandmother was in a room with 6 other women all around her age and with similar symptoms. My dad had to point out which woman was my grandmother to me because I couldn't even recognize her! She looked nothing like the Mamacita I knew and remembered. My once robust and healthy grandmother was thin and fragile. She is receiving oxygen and liquid nourishment. Mamacita is unconscious and the doctors said to "be prepared" as she is on her way out.
Sadly, my relationship with my Mamacita has never been close. I remember more arguments and unpleasant memories with her than sweet and loving ones. That being said, I know that she was very proud of me. I in return may have never loved her as most people love their grandmothers but I greatly respect many qualities about her. It was very painful to see her as she is in her current state. While she is unconscious, she is still visibly in pain. I could do nothing except caress her hand and forehead, rearrange her pillows and talk to her hoping that she might pick something up along the way.
I don't know how long my Mamacita will be able to go on this way. Whatever happens, I hope that her suffering will be kept at a minimum. Thanks so much to my Tía Élia who goes in each and every day to be with her.
For those of you that are interested, click here to read my mom's great post on Mamacita in her better days.