When we left Melaque nine days ago, the three of us had one mission -- to get a new prosthetic eye for Lupe. I can now say: “Mission accomplished.”
But this trip has proven to be so much more. Getting to know more about Alex and Lupe, even though they have been my neighbors for five years. Getting to see Mexico City anew through their eyes -- with all of its wonders. Best of all, though, creating a relationship with both of them that may not quite be friendship, but it is awfully close.
It almost seems anti-climactic to let you know that Lupe now has what we came to Mexico City for -- a new eye. A week ago, we were not certain what the outcome was going to be.
Her initial examination revealed that the bone constituting her eye socket had begun to close. The closing bone then started to push her artificial eye down and out. Down in out in Beverley Hills may get you a movie. Down and out in Melaque gets you trouble.
Lupe has worn that eye for ten years without any medical examinations. DIF (the state social services) assisted her in getting it. But her wages as a hotel maid were too much to qualify for further assistance -- and, as these things often are, too low to pay for treatment on her own.
That is when the kind residents of the hotel where she works stepped in. And it is why we are in Mexico City.
Over the past week, Lupe on her own and with doctor-assisted therapy has been able to improve the opening. But it was just an improvement. The replacement eye is about 60% the size of her functioning eye. But it will now fit properly.
Last Friday, the doctor chose a prosthetic that would fit. An artist in the office spent a couple of hours with Lupe painting the artificial eye to match her functioning one.
On Monday at noon, we returned for its installation. And installed it is.
So, are you ready for the big reveal? Here is Lupe with her doctor -- Dra. Carla Ortega Zamitiz.
At this point, I think she was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Her trademark smile is missing. But she is overjoyed with the result.
To me, it is a great improvement over her old eye. And there are a lot of thanks to go around. To Dra. Ortega for her skills, caring, and patience. To the people who love Lupe and were willing to sacrifice for her benefit. To Alex, whose English skills and good nature have resolved several dilemmas that Lupe and I could not have done on our own.
And, of course, to Lupe who has been brave and nervous and persistent and thankful to everyone who has cared enough about her to get this new eye.
At lunch yesterday she broke into tears when telling me that she wishes she could hug everyone who has helped her get this eye. In her own Dickensian words: "God bless them all."
I add my thanks to everyone who have given me the opportunity to grow during this past week. Lupe and Alex have taught me a lot.
We may not be landing on an aircraft carrier to declare our victory, but when we return to Melaque around noon today, we will feel as if we are in a victory parade.