Sunrise – shot from the first flight from Kansas City to Houston
For those of you who aren’t connected with me on Facebook…SURPRISE! I’m in Panama City, Panama!
Leaving Houston on the way to Miami
That sounds much more upbeat than what it has actually been. See, this hasn’t exactly been a touristy fun kind of visit.
I didn’t get to see the Panama canals, but I did see plenty of container ships leaving and heading for the open sea.
My dad has lived in Panama for about 15 years now. He’s an American citizen, born here in Missouri, but he has always loved traveling.
A shot from the taxi window – Panama City, Panama
As he has aged, and reported falling and various other medical issues – like diabetes and the vision issues that often accompanies diabetes – I have worried. But my dad is rather obstinate (that is a significant understatement, by the way). He has lived his life on his terms.
Camilo, the taxi driver who is a friend of the owner of the house I’m staying it. Camilo keeps trying to teach me Spanish. And I’m a willing but incompetent student. “Oh Christina, tu Espanol es pequito mal!” Yes it is, Camilo, yes it is.
Last Monday, December 19th, was to be a “writing day.” The kiddo was off at a friend’s for a playdate, my husband was working, and I, I was going to hit my current manuscript full force.
By 12:30 I had over 1,200 words written and I took a break to eat a bit of lunch. At 12:45, just as I had resumed writing, the phone rang. I looked at the number, didn’t recognize it, and considered not answering.
This is Timothy, my dad’s childhood bear. Timothy travels everywhere with Dad. He has never left him behind.
Too many years in call centers and in offices precluded that. And I’m glad I did, because the person on the other end was a friend of my dad’s calling to let me know he was very ill and currently in a Panamanian hospital.
My dad in Hospitale Santa Fe in Panama City, Panama.
Less than 48 hours later I was on a plane flying out of the country for the first time, terrified of the situation I would find, and completely lost in a foreign country. Did I also mention that my knowledge of the Spanish language is pretty much nonexistent?!
A street near the house where I am staying
There have been many ups and downs since as I struggled to orient myself in Panama City, deal with bureaucracy and medical issues, and even the task of finding food and transport and lodging.
It has been a terrifying, stressful, and sometimes exhilarating ride – and it isn’t done yet.
View of the Panama City skyline from my dad’s doctor’s office
I’ve had to deal with issues like – expired visas, learning how to care for my father, arrange for tickets, and monitor his medical issues with as much dignity and respect as I can.
My father is practically a skeleton, has aged decades in just one short year, and is suffering from out of control diabetes, severe malnutrition, a head wound, memory issues, prostate issues, bowel issues and is very frail.
A view of the Panama City skyline from my dad’s doctor’s office
Our plane tickets were purchased for the earliest possible departure date, Sunday, and I have just one piece of paper left to procure for Immigration. I have managed to secure the help of one of his friends here, Nanci, who speaks very good English, and my new friend Camilo, a taxi driver to make sure we make it to the airport on time.
There have been so many dragons to defeat and mountains to climb in the past eight days since my boots hit the ground here. I can’t do it justice in just one post. Suffice it to say, my life, as well as the lives of my children, husband and dad are going to change significantly in the coming weeks and months as we learn to incorporate my obstinate and willful father into our family dynamic. I will be learning what it is to be a caretaker too. Our lives are changing in a massive way.
I’m also going to write a book on this whole experience. I’m titling it, “When God Laughs.”
That fateful Monday, I had declared the day to be a “writing day.” And you may have heard the saying, “Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.”
This artwork that I was working on the day before THE CALL hits too close to home with the idea of travel and roads.
More later, when I’m back stateside.