I’d been at work at the dairy ranch getting things ready for the routine of morning milking by hand of about fifteen noisy cows. As was usual with them they had bellowed since first light for attention to their full utters. I immediately noticed that when I appeared in the cow stable to milk them they instinctively knew and quieted down. Suddenly the boss lady called me away from my duties to come up to to the big house and when I got there she became very talkative while I remained quiet.
She suddenly acted as if it was only an after thought about me not even getting a meal a day for all the work I was doing on her farm. At a loss for all her solicitude all of a sudden, I remained silent when she offered me a plate of some rice and beans she had cooked up. At first I rejected her offer of food, but common sense told me to accept as she seemed to be motivated by wanting to know me better.
“What are you doing in Bocas?” she asked, “Well, Miss Williams, I wanted to work some then go back to Colon and finish my education at the Abel Bravo College,” I said. “I have heard of that school!” she said immediately with a note of approval. This made me suspicious of her manner-of-fact way of interrogating me Then things got really quiet and I waited before I asked her if she would just pay me five dollars for the work I had done so far done. More than once in our employer/employee work relationship I had been tempted to just quit. I knew that she owed me much more than the $5.00, funds I would use to get me on a boat to Colon. She suddenly changed the conversation and said, “You can bring your family to stay with you if you like.” With that change of the direction in our conversation, I suddenly thanked her and left to go back to my chores not having agreed to any different arrangement. Then that evening, as I arrived and immediately saw to the herd of cows before retiring for the night I could not find her to continue asking her for the five dollars (I insisted) she owed me. The following morning, after covering my route, I took time to stop home and talk with Pug. I told her that the next evening I would arrive for her and the baby for a trip up to the ranch. The visit, I explained, would only be for that night for Miss Williams wanted to see the baby.
In the meantime, in Bocas Town I would find out that Miss Ethel Levy, Pug’s grandmother, had showed up unannounced. To my surprise she was in town looking for some relief in Bocas for she was suffering from cancer. Unknown to us, this would be the last time that she would visit her grandchildren in her lifetime. Miss Ethel would be visiting the same hospital in which her youngest granddaughter had given birth to our baby, the hospital in Almirante. On my routine stop home to deliver milk for both babies we had in our apartment, I couldn’t help but feel impotent that I could not help in any way with Pug’s grandmother’s illness, or at least afford to offer grandmother any money for her to keep trying other sources since we were close to the boarder with Costa Rica where she could seek some alternative relief for her ailment. It was a small consolation at the time that all the services at Almirante Hospital were free.
The day she returned from Almirante we all found out that she had received some very bad news from the doctors at Almirante Hospital, that her case was incurable. To compound the bad news, Pug kept up her insinuations to everyone in Bocas Town that I had been mistreating her. Grandmother Levy, however, continued to seek a remedy for her illness, and although I never had the time to go see her at her daughter’s home nearby, she sent kids to tell me to stop mistreating her lying granddaughter. Suddenly, in so far as I was concerned, the Campbell home would become off limits to me and I became a persona non grata . It was then that I began sleeping nights at the beach away from home to avoid sleeping with my conniving wife.
This story continues.