I must admit that my entrance into 2016 was sad due to existential difficulties, both personal and due to survival efforts. The previous Christmas was not a happy one, in spite of all my efforts to compensate temporary loses.
The present Christmas, 2016, has a different outlook. The affective loses were recuperated, and I was able to hold my traditional Grandfather-Grandchildren party. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, my Christmas is complete. With this statement I confirm that family union is required for my December season.
I always celebrate Hanukkah with my grandchild Javier, just to remember our origins. It obviously does not entail the religious rigurosity, but we do play with the Dreidles everyday, and we include the little gifts.
Luckily, there were no surgeries, which has been a boost to my mental health and my pocketbook. Though, I must admit that the pains due to rheumatoid arthritis is a constant. And I wish the alternative medicine I am taking helps.
As I try not to let my illness get me down, in February I visited my friend Ernesto Cerrud in New Delhi. I have never been in a place with more social contrast; it was fascinating. To top it all, in spite of the fear of my daughters-in-law, I flew from Panama to L.A., where I visited with my sister Gladys for two days and then flew on the longest non-stop flight in the world -- LA to Dubai. From there I went on to India. I love trying new airplanes; so, I chose Emirates because they flew the Airbus A-380. It's the second time I go around the world. The first time was going to Kathmandu, Nepal, five years ago.
A month ago I went to San Jose, California, to visit my nephew Manuel Palacios. I spent a wonderful week with Carla, my little niece Verónica, and her grandmother Nuria. During that trip I was able to meet my friends from San Jose State College -- now University. Jane had been in Panama some years ago; Carl and Carol came from Sacramento, and Polly was there with her husband Jim -- who I had not seen since 1965. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant -- Mamma Mía -- followed by a visit to the campus of our university, where we shared quite a few memories. We have grown older, but our spirits remain youthful.
This year I have not written anything, except a few pieces about Panama's proposed mental and sexual health law -- which was sent to the trash can. Nevertheless, I am writing a "how to" book which I hope to complete during 2017.
It 's been a year since I went back to my private practice once a week. One good thing is that I am not concerned about the financial aspect of working. Since mental health workers cannot work for free I charge a cup of coffee if the client cannot pay.
My friends' inconditional suppport has been a key factor in this stage of my life. They are a few, but are real. Without them I would have not been able to keep on going, because a permanent depression cannot be dealt with only with medication.
As far as my sons, they grew up with the uncertainty of their mother's life since whe was 35 years old. That was when she had her first two surgeries after a brain stroke. They saw how she fought for her life until her final moments arrived when they were adults. Though I have the impression that they idealized their father as invincible, and it may have been very difficult to adjust to his emotional and physical downfall after Emita's departure.
My permanent fear is becoming dependent, physically. This terror has impelled me to recover at a fast pace after my feet surgeries, especially.
I hope 2017 handles me with care and allows me to fulfill my first goal: To meet Eleonora Palacios, my almost two-year old niece in London by the end of March.
May the photos deliver my wishes for you.