Saturday, January 14, 2012


I was just now commenting on my G+ to someone about the sweet people I meet when I visit my sister during her dialysis treatments. One of them I think of as "Mami."

Mami is so easy to fall in love with. She is a tiny lady always wrapped in layers of shawls and scarves. Under all those wrappings, I can tell that she has lovely hair, thick and smoothed back in waves. When the technicians seat her in her dialysis chair and finish attaching her to the machine, they wrap her legs in blankets. Mami speaks very little English and I speak zero Filipino. We communicate with smiles, hand-to-hand touch and the feel of what we say to each other. It works.

Three times a week Mami and my sister receive their treatments, sitting for four hours while a machine cleanses their system of toxins. My sister watches DVDs or plays games on the tv that is provided. Mami watches tv for about ten minutes before she dozes off, sleeping like a child until time to go home. If the people around her talk too loudly or too much, she will wake and tell the techs that "They are too noisy. Too noisy for me to rest." And everyone will quiet down a little so that Mami can sleep.

Mami's son and daughter-in-law transport her to and from the treatments. She and I typically get to spend five or ten minutes together while she is waiting for her ride and I am waiting to take my sister home. We talk to each other in words and pantomine ("I was in the hospital this weekend. Chest pains." "Are you feeling okay right now?" "Yes, yes, I think so.") We manage to exchange bits of news ("How is your sister?" "She's doing well." "My husband will be coming here." "To dialysis?" "To Alaska. Here." "Where is he now?" "In the Philippines still, but he is coming here.") I learned that her husband is deceased. It doesn't matter, she still loves him so I always ask about him and she always tells me that he will be coming here soon.

When Mami's children arrive to take her home, she will touch her lips to my cheek and tell me she loves me. (When I first cut off most of my hair and felt de-Trudied, Mami told me "You are beautiful.") I tell her I love her. We will  expect to see one another "day after tomorrow." Always day after tomorrow, every other day of the week, as long as dialysis works for Mami and my sister.

So that's what I can tell you about Mami.