Where is the Humanity?

December 8, seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, from Guatemala, died while in custody of Border Patrol Agents, provoking an instant backlash in the news and online about the way migrants are treated at the border. The latest new story from NBC News says that it’s likely she died of sepsis, but a full autopsy report is not out yet.

What is known is that the girl and her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, arrived at a remote part of the New Mexico desert and were picked up by U.S. authorities with a group of other migrants on Dec. 6. Hours later, after being put on a bus to a Border Patrol station, the girl began vomiting and died at a hospital in El Paso, Texas.

Around 5 a.m. on Dec. 7, Caal told Border Patrol agents that his daughter had become ill and was vomiting. Agents arranged for an ambulance to meet the family’s bus at the border patrol station in Lordsburg about 90 miles away.

Border Patrol agents clearly are not equipped to handle medical situations like what was happening to Jakelin. She had a fever of 105 and was vomiting, so she should never have been put on a bus to travel two more hours before receiving medical attention. Perhaps if she had been taken immediately to the nearest hospital, the outcome would have been different.

Who knows.

A January 2018 story in The Washington Post, revealed that Border Patrol Agents were destroying supplies left in the desert for migrants so they wouldn’t die out there without water. A video was released by Tucson-based aid group, No More Deaths along with a report on what was happening to the humanitarian aid being given to the migrants.

The footage, taken between 2010 and 2017, showed Border Patrol agents kicking over water jugs that had been left in the desert. In one clip, a male agent sneers at the person filming him, demanding to know whom the water is for, as he empties a gallon bottle of water onto the ground.

No matter what your opinions are about this volatile issue of migration into the United States, you would have to have a heart of stone not to have empathy for the people who suffer and die trying to seek refuge from the dangers in their own countries. They are not all criminals and animals as many people are calling them.

Too many of them are children.

On a more positive note, I want to share another excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant & A Paycheck, picking up from where I left off last Friday, revealing the Christmas Scramble that is part of my life every year. This segment is a little more thoughtful and is all about the most important part of giving and receiving gifts.

One year, I was able to take one thing off my To-Do list of holiday preparations—shopping. It was the year that necessity put me in the position of making a lot of our gifts. At first, I was disappointed that our checkbook couldn’t be as generous as our hearts, but, as I decided what to make for each person and started working on the projects, that gave me a new perspective. The time I spent on each gift made me feel closer to the person I was making it for. It was like time spent with them, thinking of all the things that make them special to me, and I realized the extra benefit of a handmade gift.

A benefit I didn’t always appreciate in quite the same way.

After my husband and I moved to Texas, we rarely made it back to Michigan for holidays, and my mother always sent handmade gifts for Christmas. Necessity has ruled her entire life, and we became accustomed to not expecting gifts of any great monetary value. Even so, the arrival of her annual box always sparked an eagerness in me that I never fully understood. The gifts were either handmade or just a small trinket, and sometimes there were even gifts for we-don’t-know-who. Sometimes we didn’t even know what the gift was or what it was for; usually something she knitted or crocheted that could be a small afghan or a very thin rug or a large lap blanket.

When the kids were young, they never understood my excitement over mother’s box, either, but I couldn’t fault them for that. It’s easy for a simple gift to be diminished when stacked up next to one larger and more expensive, and like the kids, I often saw my mother’s efforts as a mere gesture.

But the year that necessity forced me to make gifts, was the year that I finally understood what a gift really is, whether handmade or purchased.

A gift is not just a thing. It’s a connection between the person giving and the person receiving that says something special about the relationship between the two. And a gift should never be rushed. The longer you think about it, plan it, and work on it, the stronger the connection.

That’s the special, intangible ingredient my mother wrapped up and sent to us for all those years.

That something special is in my short story, The Gift. I hope you will consider giving it a read. 

That’s all for me for today, folks. I hope your weekend starts off great. Be happy. Be safe.

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