Ah, really too bad…. I have wonderful photos from here in Guatemala and can’t use them because this is Orien’s computer and they are not here. I’ve been in San Pedro La Laguna for a week and am completely enamored with this wonderful Lago Atitlan lifestyle. So many interesting people from all over the world and so many kindly interesting local people! There’s one humble woman who brings me to the point of writing though… reminiscent of yesterday, the six month anniversary of Michael’s remarkable death… I pet his pictures on my phone and posted a picture of us two old farts smooching.. how corny is all of that? Anyway, the woman I think about is not remarkable. She is Dona Clara who is the mother of our host. She is a tiny, unassuming woman who washes all the dishes of the family. I never see her except at the sink doing dishes. One day I watched her from the second floor, where Orien and I have rooms, and she poured the dregs of fruit licuado into her hand and drank it reverently and rather furtively. I don’t know her status but know she is a widow and that her only daughter died 20 years ago.
Last night, after a wonderful day visiting a pre-school in the rural community of Panjabar, the home of an incredibly creative couple from Quebec, having lunch and drinks and gin rummy with a remarkable couple from British Columbia in some lovely places, I’d love to show you, Orien and I went up to watch a procession of Catholics. It was an ancient act of devotion… the women covered their heads with traditional scarves and little boys cranked wooden noise makers while men carried a statue of Christ on the cross down the cobble streets, using a huge metal U device to push up the telephone wires as they passed. With a nod to modernity, a generator followed the well-lit savior far back tethered by an impossibly long power line.
Where am I going with this? Dona Clara was at the base of the hill with about a dozen women of our age. Despite our cultural distance I knew they saw me for what I am, one of them. One of the viudas, one of the viejas, una anciana. I saw the recognition in their faces and I acknowledged them as my sisters in the no man’s land of this time of life. As long as we remain independent and vital we are uncompromised but we are all on thin ice. No new man will find us behind our wrinkled faces and the vital part of our lives has mostly dissipated.
The good thing is that much of the time I feel my usual self. Filled with the joy of living, interested in everything, getting where I want to go. The six month mark was like a dark cloud hanging over me and yesterday I did have a small breakdown, as I have in some of the days before but today was a new day and tomorrow we go to the market in Chichicastenango and I know the world will whirl with the colors of the Mayan people and I am incredibly grateful for my health, for my daughter’s company and for the spirit I possess, as well as the good man I knew who graced my life not so long ago.