The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year Part 4: Drama

aeroporto-LisboaLong Distance Wedding Plans

If you’ve ever planned a wedding, for yourself or for someone else, you know that it nearly qualifies as  full-time employment. Add in the facts that “wedding coordinator” was a relatively rare bird in the 1970’s – unless you were royalty. And your mother is clueless.

Your fiance lives nearly 3400 miles away from you during a time that transatlantic phone calls were rare and expensive. And he has more relatives than Ping “who lived with his mother and father and two sisters and three brothers and eleven aunts and seven uncles and forty-two cousins.” ping

Do  you wonder that my first choice was to go to the pastor’s house for the wedding ceremony and throw  a reception party after the honeymoon?  If it had been up to me…but it wasn’t. Not entirely. At least I had my attendants picked out before I left Portugal; My flower girl (pastor’s daughter) (Harry’s little cousin to be) the ring bearer, my sisters-in-law to be, my high school friend, and my younger sister who was to be my maid of honor.

A Dark and Stormy Night

I was still dazed with the wonder of being engaged to Harry when one Sunday night in September my sister’s boyfriend came to pay a visit to my parents. I was up in my bedroom reading, but I soon felt the thick tension spread through the house. It would have required a machete to cut through it. After some time had passed, I heard the front door close, and then someone climbed the stairs evidently looking for a gun in my parents’ bedroom. Clearly,  something out of the ordinary was going on.

I went down the stairs  with apprehension. At the bottom step I noted that the boyfriend was gone. My dad was on the sofa clutching his chest and popping nitroglycerin pills like they were little sugar pills. My younger brother looked angry enough to commit murder. My mother turned around, looked at me and wailed, “Your sister is pregnant. What will the neighbors think?”

And, in this Corner…

 I would like to say that I was all compassion and understanding that night. The best I could muster up at the moment and for a good number of minutes to come, was to keep my mouth shut. At least until I had a chance to process it all. Then I was confused and apprehensive.

At that time in history, unwed mothers either got married or were sent off to a home. Often, they were forced to give up their babies for adoption. Happily, that did not happen in this case. Unfortunately, though, I had still no experience to draw upon in the situation, and I put my foot in my mouth more than once.

My pastor was aware of the turmoil in our family, and was concerned for all of us. He called me in to talk to him one day while I was still at school. When he asked me how I was doing, I started to cry. I told him about how I felt and that I didn’t know what to do. At the end, he said that he couldn’t tell me what to do, but that I should listen for the Lord to tell me, and do what God wanted. I took his advice. And that was when the compassion grew by leaps and bounds in my heart for my sister. I realized that she carried the heaviest burden.

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