Nothing to Take to a Sick Friend

Rosa Martinez

In a Cuban health center.

HAVANA TIMES — I don’t know what it is with my generation (35-45 years old) but the thing is that we have inherited a lot of diseases that we hardly ever used to hear about: stress, high blood pressure, diabetes, cervicalgia, arthritis and many more.

Some people say that they did exist, but that because adults never used to go the doctors back then, they didn’t know they had it. Others claim that it is related to excessive worrying and, of course, the awful diets in the 1990s, which really affected us during the wrongly named “Special Period” crisis.

I don’t know what the exact science is behind it, because our grandparents always used to eat a lot of pork and lard from this animal, and at 90 years old, not even their calluses hurt.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk to you about today is that my fellow age group get sick quite regularly, and when that happens I always have the horrible dilemma of what to take them when I visit them at the hospital or at home; it’s really bad to go and see a sick person with empty hands, right?

Sometimes, I spend over a day looking for something that might be useful to them to get better and, of course, that I can afford.

I don’t know whether this has ever happened to you too, but I haven’t gone to see a loved one in the first few days of their sickness because my financial situation hasn’t allowed me to buy a juice, malanga (the cheapest) or something else we normally take to the afflicted on the island.

But, living in Cuba, I believe that we shouldn’t worry so much about what to take – although a good friend always deserves our sacrifice – but if we stick to this, we might end up not going to see this person for a long time, just because we have anything to give them.

I know somebody whose best friend had a baby and because she didn’t have a present for the newborn, she turned up two months after the birth. They nearly killed her for that stupidity! And she nearly lost her friendship over such nonsense.

We strive so much to please or show our sincere love for someone with material things that we forget what is truly important: just being there.

3 thoughts on “Nothing to Take to a Sick Friend

  • When you visit a friend or relative in hospital, they surely are pleased to see you more than whatever it is that you take them! Love and friendship comes before gifts surely?

  • I had been in Cuba for the first time for only two days when the mother of the owner of my casa particular fell ill and was hospitalized. I wanted to show my genuine concern so I decided I would accompany “la duena” to the hospital to visit her mother. I left the house early the morning of the visit to run out to buy what I had always bought for people in the hospital……flowers! When I got back to the house ready to leave again with the owner, I proudly showed her how thoughtful I was. When she saw this huge bouquet of flowers, she just politely smiled and told me that her mother would appreciate those flowers more once she got home in a few days. She gently told me that a better idea would have been a carton of real orange juice. I couldn’t believe it. Just juice? Anyway, we stopped by a mercado and I bought some juice. Just the first of many lessons on Cuban culture.

  • Your last sentence Rosa is correct. Other Cubans know that those with children like your husband and you, do not have the money to purchase material things as gifts. Visiting friends in hospital is important, because it demonstrates that you care for them and about them. When people are sick and confined to hospital, the most important thing is knowing that others care about them – otherwise there is only loneliness. Human compassion cannot be bought – it is priceless.

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