Navigating through the complexity of Hugh Chatham Memorial was an 86-year-old old woman with a walking cane.
She dropped her leather eyeglass holder onto the floor.
She didn’t have the ability to pick up the case herself. She was recently dicharged for a liver illness, was alone, and had no family near her. She has six children, none near her.
Other patients and employees carried on with matters important to them just outside the waiting area of the cafeteria, not seeming to notice the frustration building in Julia Ramos.
“I’m not upset that I keep having to come in and out of a hospital, but I can’t bend over like I used to,” she said. “I don’t want to give up my independence.”
Ramos walked over to the corner of the cafeteria to stay out of traffic, settled into the seat, and grabbed the eyeglass case handed to her to place inside her pocketbook.
“I have to remember to zip it closed,” Ramos said with a smile. “Sometimes I feel I’m losing my mind.”
She takes her coffee black.
“Lots of sugar, please!” she exclaimed.
Over coffee, Ramos shared that her kids are all grown up. They love the beach and most of them stayed in the coastal cities in Texas.
“I used to live in Galveston, Texas,” she said. “I spent 50 years there.”
Ramos came here 20 years ago and purchased land with her brothers and cousins off Route 601. Family squabbles and retirement forced the property to change hands, she said.
Ramos came to the United States on a work visa. She worked for RGB Electric as an office manager and assembled a workforce mostly of migrant labor employees.
“It took me 10 years to become a citizen,” she said. “But I’m one of the lucky ones, and I got my citizenship before I had any of my children.
Ramos says the next most important step for America is to settle the immigration status of what she believes is an out-of-control virus spreading across the nation.
“What does it mean for people like me, someone who came here from Mexico legally?” asked Ramos. “All I’ve ever asked for was to be treated like everyone else, and responsible for doing my part.”
“I’ve worked here in Elkin for a decade before taking a job in Greensboro for 11 years. I used to commute to the airport in Greensboro for three days a week,” she said. “I have cousins who still live in Burlington, so I was able to stay there for work. I’m now retired.”
Ramos was married to Edward Ramos, who died in 1998.
“We met when were in our 30s,” said Ramos. “Six kids later is all I can say. It was a score. He was tall, dark, and handsome, served in the U.S. Navy and good with his hands and at engineering.”
Ramos was proud to say, “I may be with bad health, but I did it the right way.