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A Special Encounter With a Panamanian Senior Citizen

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Recently my wife and I hosted a small gathering in our home with a couple from the USA, Bob and Alicia Grubic. The primary reason for the gathering was to be a discussion about some mutual hobby activities, and of course with the usual social chatter, etc. I first met Bob several years ago through a mutual friend.

Bob and Alicia have a link with Boquete in that Alicia's father is retired and living in Alto Boquete. They were here visiting with her father, and asked if it was okay to bring him for the gathering at our house. Of course, we confirmed.

Here were the five of us in our living room. I had the strangest feeling come over me that I was in the presence of greatness. Alicia's father talked little, but listened intently. It was only toward the end of our afternoon gathering that we learned a bit more about her father.

It turns out that he is a retired Panamanian doctor (OB/GYN) who is 93 years old and in good health. His name is Herminio Carrizo. His wife passed away many years ago, and so he lives alone now, but with regular oversight by qualified caregivers. Sr Carrizo has written many articles and just last year wrote a short book reflecting his views on life, the role that his religious beliefs play in his life, and some thoughts about what is important. That book was, of course, written in Spanish, but has been translated into English, by Alicia, who is a translator in the state court system where they live in the US.

I was very humbled shortly before their departure from our home, bordering on being embarrassed at paying more attention to the intended topic rather than spending more time listening to Sr Garrizo. He was just so gracious and unassuming. I should have paid more attention to my instincts than what I did. Here was someone who had accomplished so much in his life, cared for the welfare of so many women, and who has seen and experienced so much here in Panama. And all I could do was shake his hand and give him a big -- but gentle -- hug. He had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes. If only I could achieve one-tenth of what he has achieved in his life then I would have every right to be proud of myself. My actions on that day said I was not off to a good start.

I learned a big lesson from that gathering, a lesson I hope never to forget.

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