Evangelina Holvino

Evangelina Holvino is a creative non-fiction writer and a free-lance consultant on issues of social differences and justice in non-profit organizations.

This winter, my brother lay in a comma in a San Juan Regional Hospital bed dying from Kaposi’s sarcoma. This fatal type of cancer had spread to his internal organs and was now shutting them down. Rober, as we affectionately called him, had abused heroin for more than thirty years and this was the final result and my last moment with him.

This year, a fox the color of fire took up residence in the lower part of our overgrown garden. She built an enormous den and proceeded to play, feed, sleep, sunbathe, run, sit and nurse her pups at a prudent distance from the house. Ordinary days looking out the window in my office were turned into extraordinary days looking for and watching Mama Fox and her five pups. It turned out that the bathroom with the smallest window had the best view of the den, a mound of brown dirt hidden between the trees where color and movement signaled that the foxes were there.

I came to appreciate the importance of language in health care when my bilingual mother returned to live in Brattleboro after spending a few months with her sister in Puerto Rico. Suddenly and without apparent reason, she began to speak only in Spanish.

In the eight months before her death, only one of the many nurses, caretakers, therapists, lab technicians and emergency personnel who attended her spoke or understood Spanish.

As my mother’s health deteriorated and her dementia progressed, I became more and more involved in her care.  My brother in Puerto Rico could not help.