So I turned 57 years old yesterday.
Hooray! Another inauspicious milestone.
Thanks to everyone who sent comments and congrats on Facebook.
My brother, in his birthday note, pointed out that 57 is a ‘perfect’ age; not too old, not too young. And he even offered the metaphor of Heinz 57 sauce. A spicy ketchup.
Seriously, I had a great birthday here in Malay, Aklan on Panay island in the Philippines. Relaxed. Admired the gorgeous sea and beach and tropical scenery. Took a bike ride. Enjoyed a few beers and some classic rock music with a local buddy; supper and birthday pie by Ellie and mom. And of course, gave thanks for my good health.
Sure, I have a few issues: hair loss, some occasional back and neck pain, and my up-close vision continues to degrade. But overall, I feel pretty much the same as 10 or 15 years ago.
Without a doubt, I’m better off than some local Filipinos that we’ve met and helped recently. On my birthday – and every day; a perfect time to share the blessings of health and good fortune.
Below is a photo of part of a letter we received from a 49-year-old father — begging for financial assistance with his heart treatment and medications. The other pic is his charming 4-year-old son. (We are not showing faces because these are sensitive health issues.)
Help with medical bills for Ati
The father is a member of the indigenous Ati tribe – an economically disadvantaged group that we are assisting with funding for several community projects.
The man heard of our involvement and sent the heart-wrenching plea for medical help. With the assistance of my generous mother, who remains here with us, we were able to pay for the crucial testing and treatment the father needed. Now, two weeks later, he is convalescing.
Similarly, we were recently asked to help another Ati family who’s diabetic mother was rushed to the hospital suffering from hypoglycemia. She was admitted for several days and successfully treated, but the family didn’t have the funds to pay the patient share of costs and medications.
Thankfully, we were again able to supplement medical care and medication for someone who’s life was in danger. This lady, pictured below with a daughter, is also now recovering at home with her family.
We don’t fully understand Philippine health care. They do have a national system. Many costs are covered – no charge. But there are limits and deductibles too. And prescription medications at pharmacies must be payed for out-of-pocket.
Naturally, due to the coronavirus shut-down, jobs and wages have been lost. Bills are going unpaid/delayed. But medicines are must-haves. And since we are able, we feel obliged to help our less fortunate neighbors.
Helping when we can
We recently received thousands of dollars in donations to help the Ati tribe with food, water and sustainability projects. Undoubtedly, as we work through those, there will be moments of medical necessity, too. Separately, I know my mom is personally helping one local friend with an urgent dental situation. All we can do is consider other medical requests as they occur.
In the end, we are blessed to be here; safe, healthy and able to help. And on my birthday and beyond, as we all struggle through this unprecedented disruption, I’m happy to be the Heinz 57 sauce; a special dressing that improves the taste of life and makes the difficult times more palatable.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “Help with medical bills for Ati; Tedly grateful for good health.”
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What to read next:
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- How we met the Ati people in Malay, Aklan, Philippines