From the author of "The Existence of Pity" and "Courage Without Grace"
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Colombia, Part 4: Thank God for Cristo Rey
"Linea unica, por favor," - with its translation "Unique line, please,"- is the sign greeting Dan and me as we get off the plane. I'm soaking everything in and the wade through immigration goes quickly. We make our way out the door and into the overwhelming throng, but Dad's smiling face in the center of the sea of Colombians is a reassuring sight.
Cristo Rey Hovering Over Cali
The airport used to be far from town, but Cali has grown toward it and on the drive I search for something, anything, that looks familiar. The city is so changed it's another place entirely. I'm disheartened that 25 years has turned Cali into a stranger and I wonder if this is how Mom feels; lost in a world that was home.
I'm relieved when Cristo Rey, a distant speck in the sky, comes into view. At least he hasn't gone anywhere, even if he is now surrounded by cell phone towers.
Mom and Dad's street in the Daytime
Mateo, our driver, turns off a main road, then makes a quick left and pulls up to a huge white wall. We've arrived at Mom and Dad's assisted living home. It's a lovely house, feels very safe, has a pool and a veranda, and there are many people around to help out.
I'm thrilled to see Mom, but she isn't sure of me. Dad tells her I am her daughter and she looks suspicious. She smiles her distant smile, not my dear mom's smile for me. She loves her nurse, the cook, and everyone who looks after her, and Dad seems well. He is in high spirits. I leave the room and come back and Mom asks, "And who is this?" It breaks my heart and pisses me off at the same time. I hate this Alzheimer's.
I've noticed there are no bugs, and can't wait to tell my Natalie. No bugs! No mosquitoes, no cockroaches, a moth or two, and some salamanders, but that's it. The weather feels damp and cool, like it just rained, and it's unbelievably quiet. A dog barks occasionally, a car drives by, but otherwise this house, with it's windows open wide to a neighborhood full of people, is silent. This is truly a different world, this city of 3 million. It's still hard to believe the number now includes my parents. But tomorrow I will see Cali in the daylight, and I can't wait.