A few days ago I got an unexpected call, one of those that you don’t feel like answering because you sense that what you’re about to hear will affect your state of mind. The caller was so insistent that his number engraved itself on my memory.
The person who called was a friend of mine, a bit of a nutcase, who’s hard to shake off; not because I’m party to his craziness, but because he is a good person, and I care about him.
“Hugo, buddy, why don’t you answer my call,” he reproached me in an authoritative voice. He knows why I didn’t answer: it’s because he always has some urgent problem to keep his adrenaline going.
“You’ve got to help me with this. There’s this gentleman that I know who needs to travel to Cuba. There aren’t any tickets, and the flights are really expensive. Can you help me out?” But, hold on, who is this gentleman and what kind of problem does he
have that requires you to ask for my help so desperately? “Just listen to him,” he said. “He’ll tell you.”
I agreed to meet with William, the gentleman with the problem, at about 6 p.m. in a park near a house where I usually meet up at the
same time every day with a crew of neighbors who go for a run to improve their figures and stay healthy.
I had just finished my first lap when I made out a little family of three off in the distance—a lady and a little girl who was holding the
hand of a tall, hefty older man. “This is my granddaughter, Cancio.
They found that she has brain cancer,” he said, pointing at a scar on her little head. “An incurable third-degree glioma. Surgery was ruled out; they found a tumor that’s impossible to extract and sent her home with a prognosis of six months to live, and I need to travel to Cuba to get the medicine that will keep her alive. There aren’t any tickets, and the flights are super-expensive. Can you help me?”
A knot in my throat was choking me, and I was speechless for about half a minute. The little girl is blond and slim, sweet, and she has a
bit of a hard time walking. She reached for my hand to shake it and gave a beautiful smile that shook me out of my muteness. “Hi,” I said to her. “What’s your name?” “Liz,” she answered. When she saw other kids in the park, she tried to break free of her grandfather’s giant hand to go play.
William told me that in an act of desperation, he had traveled to Cuba to find Rolando, a biologist—or maybe an angel—who cures cancer patients almost without charging…. “As soon as he saw my granddaughter, he said, ‘Your granddaughter is not going to die; I’m
going to save her….’”
“Look at her, Cancio, here she is. In a hospital in Miami they gave her six months; that was in 2010. Since then, I’ve traveled every
three months to get her medicine. I am a humble, hard-working man, and I’ve had to sell almost everything to take care of and cure my
granddaughter.” Days after our encounter, William traveled to Havana and was able to make his appointment with Rolando and buy the medicine for his granddaughter.
Yesterday, I received a present from William and Liz: a bottle of whisky and a white T-shirt with a photo of Liz that says “Princess Liz.” On the back it says, “3 years and going strong with God….”
William is traveling to Havana again in late June, this time with his wife, daughter and granddaughter. I’m letting you know in case you’re traveling around that time and you run into a tall man with giant hands holding onto a little girl, just 6 years old, blond and slim, with difficulty in walking and a smile like sunshine. That’s my friend William and his granddaughter Liz. Don’t be embarrassed; approach them and they’ll thank you for it. Encourage them to keep going, to keep going strong.