Death in Alamos.
Yes, like everywhere, some die in car crashes, and sadly some O.D. But some just choose to run out their days here, finding kindness and solace in gentle hands.
And if you’re connected, a bartender will send a margarita to your bedside, something to ease you through those dying weeks or months. I swear, only in Alamos.
She was a beauty queen in her youth, all traces now erased by time and tequila, leaving a sagging face and limp hair. She was ill from… something. Maybe cirrhosis? Whatever. Like many, she had been a nightly habitué of the local watering hole. She had a history in the town, and was a favorite of the cantinero (bartender). He would not let her down in her end days. She was a renter in the complex where we were staying. One day I asked where she was. We hadn’t seen her for several days.
“Oh no se’ senora, no le he visto tampoco.” (I dunno ma’am, I haven’t seen her either.) “No contesta cuando toco.” (No response when I knock at the door.)
“Oh oh, check her room. Maybe something happened to her.” I severely admonished the sweet but not too motivated domestic. “Let’s go see,” said I.
Poor woman. She had finally deteriorated to the point that she was unable to arise to relieve herself, and had lain for days in her own filth. The stench was pitiful. She was their tenant; they knew she was failing. Why had no one checked on her?
Incensed, I called the apartment owner.
“Senora, a dreadful scene here – not to be tolerated.” I bellowed into the phone – sometimes righteous anger works best. I demanded a massive in-house cleanup of the bed-ridden and her room, then advised the local doc of what I had found and asked him to please find her a visiting nurse immediately. If necessary I would pay for it. I personally did not particularly like the woman, but humanitarian attention was required.
She lasted a few more months. One afternoon I was greeted at the building’s entry by a hand-wringing helper. “She is gone, senora.”
“What do you mean, gone?” I asked.
“Se murio” she said. (She died.)
I bustled to her room to see. She looked plenty dead. But I asked for a mirror to check for breath. No breath. She looked horrible, mouth hanging open like a dead carp. She’d have been as appalled as I.
“Quickly – get me something to push up her chin to close her mouth,” said I, to the hapless attendant. “She mustn’t be allowed to stiffen up like this.” I had zero experience with corpses, but logic told me this was so. “And get me her lipstick – she needs to be fixed up a little.”
My instincts were on target. When her wake was held the next evening, she had been fluffed up to be as beautiful as when she a young woman. Angelic, actually. Candles were lit around the coffin. The little church choir sang at her side. Those who took the time to come to view her were astonished. She hadn’t looked so good in years.
You do what you can, when you can.