Matthew’s Brief Visit

img_6824It is a brand new day…Matthew came  and went leaving us not worse for wear. A couple of days of preparations and a day and a half of worrying about its visit was all we had to remember Matthew in Miami. The monster hurricane took its time wobbling its way to us leaving destruction and death in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Anxiously, most of us, couldn’t stop watching its every move and dreading its visit.

161004-hurricane-matthew-cr-0517_1090abcfc45fe31e5b9f0e73c31f9a90-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Like an unwelcome guest, Matthew, made us cringe at the thought of its visit. Sort of like when we have to receive in our home some relative we rather never came. We know it’s inevitable, but you still wish they stay away. Unfortunately, with Mother Nature, we have no say in the matter. If it heading your way, you better prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That is what we did.

Of course, the constant updates only cause people to go overboard with their preparations. Seriously, there is so much you would need even if the emergency lasts more than a week. Rushing to the market and buying everything you think of, it’s not the way. Preparing without a plan, it’s like not preparing at all. On the other hand, the updates are needed to make everyone understand what to do…….or at least most of us.

img_6826Which brings me to that group of wise guys who think they know best and literally do not prepare or plan a party or go surfing or worse: take to the streets and put their well-being at risk. They are sure nothing is going to happen, the meteorologists have no clue what they are doing and the government only wants you to spend money. They do not realize that when it comes to Mother Nature, you can predict, but cannot ascertain anything for sure.

Going out to enjoy the hurricane is very stupid and very selfish. If anything happens, First Responders will have to go get them and risk their own lives for these irresponsible folks. So, no, it is not alright to just do as you please. Period!!!img_6815

Miami was spared this time. There was rain and winds and some downed trees. Some people lost power and some got water in their homes, but nothing major. This doesn’t mean that next time we should disregard the warnings of the meteorologists or the government. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits, each case should be taken seriously until the danger passes. Today, the sun is shinning on my little island, the sea is calm and the birds are singing. That in itself is a blessing!!!

img_6834I am so grateful for all our friends near and far who took the time to wish us well, who monitored the path of the storm and celebrated with us when the danger had passed. Thank you!!! Hopefully, Matthew will not cause more death and destruction before it fades into oblivion. Take care, everyone!!!

Matthew Comes Calling…..

img_6802After rampaging through the Caribbean for the last 10 days, Hurricane Matthew is on its way to Florida. Leaving destruction and death in its wake, the powerful storm has its sights on us. It is a sobering thought, a grim reality. Nothing to do, but prepare and pray.

Since we moved to Miami, more than a decade ago, we have experience several hurricanes. Of course there was little impact on the area and they continued to cause havoc in other parts of the country. Charlie, Jean, Hugo, Katrina, Wilma, Sandy…..all passed by, but left their marks in other places. We prepared for them, stayed inside, even saw coconuts flying by our windows and survived it all.

This time, it seems, we are in Matthew’s path and it’s a huge and powerful storm. Even if it stays offshore, the devastation it can cause is frightening. We are under Hurricane Watch, which means we can experience hurricane force winds, lots of rain and high ocean surge. Since we live on Brickell Key, a small man-made island at the mouth of the Miami River…..you can imagine how that will play.

Today, we are just getting our apartment ready: all furniture and plants  will be moved inside, we have enough food and water for 3 days for each of us, medications, flashlights, batteries, candles, matches. Our cars have gas, our phones and tables are kept charged….we are just waiting. Unnerving!!!

img_6805Outside, it is calm. This morning it was sunny and clear. Now, we have a few clouds, calm ocean and not a sound: birds have flown away, very smart little things!!! You would never believe anything that big and dangerous is approaching us. Still, it is coming. I just wish it would come and we can get this waiting over with.

We have nothing else to do, but wait, pay attention to the warnings from authorities and NOAA. Keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. May Matthew spare us the worst!!!

Wine, Rain and Tears

IMG_0555What a combination these made on my last trip to Panama. After almost nine years and twenty-six trips, we finally made the hardest decision. Our mother is now in a place where she can get all the care she needs and we are still adjusting to the idea.

On November 6th, my sister Ana and I went to Panama. This time we were not coming back without finding a permanent solution to our mother’s care. The next ten days were stressful, sentimental, cramped with difficult decisions and strangely enough, funny.

It was raining when we arrived and it rained all the way to my mother’s hometown. At times I was driving at 50 km/h. Thankfully, Ana kept me company and we plowed ahead. Took us longer than usual, but we were so grateful when we arrived. It was clear!!!

Laura was waiting for us and we realized we were just in time. Caring for an aging parent is hard enough, doing it without help is almost impossible. The decision was made….there was no reason to continue. Our mother was not receiving the adequate care, nurses are so hard to get. They prefer to work at hospitals. Never mind that we paid well, offered benefits and made them feel at home. They want to go home at the end of their shift, see their families, enjoy their lives.

The first few of days, we just concluded the plans, gathered the necessary paperwork, medications and personal items she would need. We visited her doctor, who agreed with our decision, went over the new treatment for her sleeplessness, made her as comfortable as possible and waited.

In the evenings, we sat around talking, reminiscing and laughing while having a glass or two of wine, and more than once, crying. It was not going to be easy, but we were determined to get this right. It was the least we could do for our mother. After all, she was counting on us being there for her until the end. Having to change plans was not what she expected nor what we thought would happen.

Finally the day arrived: Friday Nov 13th. We rented a special car, big enough to accommodate her belongings, Doris, her companion of more than twenty-five years and a nurse. We chose someone she knew well. We engaged a driver also.  We planned every detail. The owner of the home had advised us that it was better for us not to travel with her. Too many goodbyes, she said, would make it so much harder for our mother and for us. We had to trust her, she has done this for years. As you can imagine, it was not easy.

Shortly after they left, I drove to the city. It was better if one of us was available if our presence was needed. It was a long and lonely drive, but I made good time. Arriving in the city, it started to rain again. Then the hotel had mixed up my reservations and I had no room for that night.

IMG_3615Had to drive to a different hotel for one night. Nothing to it…….well, not so fast. Even though it was close by, traffic, one-way streets and rain made it an ordeal. It took me more than an hour to navigate a few city blocks!!! Fortunately the place was great, the service excellent and my evening was better than I had expected.

My sisters arrived the next day. I had already checked in at our hotel, so I left to return the rented car. We settled for the evening, talked so more, watched the news from Paris, tried to relax and kept in touch with the person in charge of the home. Then it started raining again, but there was no wine.

Sunday arrived and we got ready to go see our mother, at least see how she was coping. After a very good brunch washed down with Mimosas, we were ready. By then the skies had opened and it was raining cats and dogs. Never mind, we were so pleasantly greeted by the owner, who is a friend of friends. She was warm, engaging, so caring and understanding. She put us at ease immediately. We left with tears in our eyes, but with a gladdened heart.

We realize this has truly been the right decision. Our mother has adapted well; she is sleeping, eating and engaging with others. Her special chair and hospital bed have arrived. In time, we will decorate her room with all her personal mementos. The care is just what she needs at this stage, there is always someone there if she needs it. There is also the company of other ladies, who have taken to her so lovingly.

More trips will happen, but they will be more relaxed, more to enjoy our mother than to run around trying to solve problems. She is in good hands. Almost everyday, we receive reports, we receive photos and we are grateful. Next time, there will be wine for celebration, tears of happiness and relief. Not so sure about the rain, but that would be welcome too.IMG_3609