The Portugal Years – Year Four: As Time Goes By

Summer melted into fall. The leaves danced in glorious colors and the days felt brisk. Sweltering Philadelphia nights accented by the nearby trains passing by gave way to sweaters and light jackets. Soon, hats were de rigueur.

Bethy got steadier on her pins and experimented with slices of cheese as fridge magnets. Of course Elisabeth spent most of that time teething and suffering from congestion. She suffered from congestion much of the time we were there. Bethy charmed her Grandma by looking up at her and sweetly requesting more “jooooce?” (juice) The women from church gave us a splendid toddler shower. Bethy’s wardrobe was complete – until she started to grow again.

On Halloween, Bethy’s uncle carved a pumpkin for her, and she discovered books. We celebrated my grandmother’s birthday, my sister-in-laws birthday, and my mom’s birthday. My mother-in-love  began her fall baking frenzy and Harry was never far away from the kitchen when she was baking. Around Thanksgiving time, Bethy finally got in sync with the time zone.

We visited family and friends, and talked about Portugal. Before we knew it, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and we were hoping for snow for Bethy to play in.

Toddler Shower for Bethy
Toddler Shower for Bethy
Bethy checking out the chair at the shower.
Bethy checking out the chair at the shower.
The bows are more interesting than the clothes.
The bows are more interesting than the clothes.
The party is almost over.
The party is almost over.
My mom's birthday
My mom’s birthday
The reading corner at Harry's mom and dad's house.
The reading corner at Harry’s mom and dad’s house.
Bethy with her "little dickens" face. After all, it's almost Christmas.
Bethy with her “little dickens” face. After all, it’s almost Christmas.

Throwback Thursday – Aerograms: Letters From Portugal

Due to the cost of phone calls, most of our news to family and friends arrived by letters. Aerogrammes helped ease the fiscal burden as well. My wonderful mother-in-law saved a great many of the letters we wrote, and today’s Throwback Thursday features an aerogram sent to the in laws right after we had moved to Loures. Without further ado, I give you, the aerogram.

aerogram

aerogram 2

aerogram 3

aerogram 4

 

The Portugal Years: Year Four – Furlough; It May Not Mean What You Think It Means

Harry's sister's wedding with her two nieces, Katy and Bethy.
Harry’s sister’s wedding with her two nieces, Katy and Bethy.

There is a persistent myth that when people come to the states on furlough that it is for them to rest from their labor. Nothing could be less true. We were always more busy and rushed when we were in the states than when we were in Portugal. Of course, we arrived in the midst of wedding prep for my sister-in-law, and didn’t slow down for the summer. A lot of what we did was visit people who supported our work in Portugal.

Shortly after the wedding, Harry, Elisabeth and I paid our respects to our missions organization traveling upstate New York to Schroon Lake (near Saratoga). Jack Wyrtzen founded this conference and camp facility. He and his wife were delightful people, and it was always fun when Jack was around.

wol jack marge

bethy wol
Bethy at Word of Life

When we got back to Pennsylvania, there was a to-do list. My mother-in-law’s family lived upstate Pennsylvania, and every year there were family reunions – yes, multiple reunions. That was a sad year for Harry’s mother; her mother passed away, and one of the trips up was for the funeral.

A family who supported our work invited us to spend a week at their cabin on Penobscot Bay in Maine. It was August, and we were wearing  jackets and light coats. You’ll see in one photo that we had a fire in the fireplace. That was the norm. If there had been a beach, we probably would not have been out swimming. While we were there, Grandpa wanted to take Bethy to the fair. She wasn’t sure about the calf, but she did love her some cotton candy. And she rode the Ferris Wheel. My father-in-law took me out with the family for some lobster love. While we were there, Bethy turned one year old. We celebrated with a chocolate cake! Of course. She needed early orientation or who knows what might have happened?  While we were there, Bethy took her first steps.

vacation Penob

vaca 2

vaca 3

first birthday

Of course, when we got back to Pennsylvania, Bethy had another party with my side of the family, including my sweet nephew, James, in attendance. second birthday party

Bethy’s Aunt Nancy spent time with us, too. In the next photo she is giving her ice cream. One can’t properly be a Price if you don’t eat ice cream.

auntie

At some point in that busy summer, we packed up the car and drove straight through to Michigan. Bethy met her cousin, Katy, who was born a little over a month after she was born. We played on Lake Michigan in the sand and visited with Harry’s sister Sally and family. family

All of that, and we haven’t even gotten to September!

 

The Portugal Years: Throwback Thursday

Four Generations
Four Generations-June 1982

I had my dad snap this photo of the four of us because, well it is just the done thing in my family, and I wanted this memory preserved. All of us were the oldest child in our families (Mom had some half brothers but she was her mother’s only child). We are sitting on a box that my grandfather built in which to store the trash cans between pick ups.  If you look closely, you can see my grandmother’s clothes line with the prop and the clothes pins.

The building you see in the background was where the caretakers of the Jewish cemetery back there where I spent many peaceful hours riding my bicycle. With permission. And never on Sunday – that was when the families came to visit the family graves. I loved looking at the Hebrew words engraved in the headstones. The caretakers were friends with my little granny and once in a time of need they took care of me for a couple of days and I slept in their home. I’m sure Stephen King could have made something out of that overnight! It wasn’t a problem for me, though, until my school friends found out. Yes, I told them, but it had never occurred to me that it was something out of the ordinary.

The Portugal Years: Year Three – The Journey, the Wedding and the Housing

The Journey

We faced a seven month absence from our home and friends. This trip felt like an unending challenge. It was not a solo flight, nor a flight for two; it was a transatlantic voyage with an infant. Wearing cloth diapers. And she would have no seat. For at least seven hours. (This was not including getting through customs on both end and the long road to Philadelphia). Another couple would be staying in our house while we were gone, and I was uncomfortable about that. Then, before we could leave, we had to find a place to board our Samantha cat. It would not have been my first choice, or any choice at all. She loved me and trusted me, and I was leaving for what would be, for her, an eternity.

The flight was better than I expected. Bethy was eating food, but was still nursing, so she had food and comfort for the trip. In fact, some of the adults on the plane were more trouble than she was. Harry and I took turns holding her. We watched the inflight movie – Back to the Future.

We left Portugal around 10 a.m. and arrived in Kennedy Airport in the early afternoon (about 5 p.m. Portugal time). Our journey ended up at my grandmother’s house where my parents had installed themselves to care for her after my grandfather’s death in May. All of our luggage was shlepped up the narrow attic stairway into the makeshift bedroom that my grandfather put together for my parents many years before. It had no plumbing, but it had a crib. Fortunately, we would be there only a couple of weeks. After the wedding, we moved.

Elisabeth meets three of her cousins: left, James and Mary, right Amber and Bethy
Elisabeth meets three of her cousins: left, James and Mary, left and Amber and Bethy on right, June 1982.

The Wedding

We arrived during the mad dash to the Big Day of Harry’s Sister’s Wedding. They whisked me to the bridal shop for a fitting  for the bridesmaid gown. After a few adjustments for width and length, we dashed off to whatever was next. The Wedding on June 17 was the same day that Harry’s parents married . Bethy’s Aunt Sally made matching dresses for Bethy and her own daughter, Katy. Suddenly, it was the night before the day, and we found ourselves at the rehearsal dinner. Then we went to the rehearsal, where there was the requisite amount of carrying on. followed the next day by the wedding.

The Housing

After the wedding, with the bride being gone, we shlepped our luggage downstairs and then up into second floor of Harry’s parent’s home into what had been his sister’s bedroom. Living with one’s in-laws might be intimidating. Happily for us, mine have always treated me as one of their own. In fact, I preferred staying with them. Which was a good thing; we had another six months in the states.

The big aggravation was that crazy jet lag. Elisabeth was waking up at 8 a.m. – Portugal time. That was, in American time, about 2 a.m. Eventually, she changed her sleep pattern, but had begun teething in earnest. Everyone who knew us wanted to hold the baby, (even when she was drooling). Sometimes she just wanted Mommy.

We had culture shock in reverse. During the few years we had been in Portugal, I had forgotten how Americans rushed around in such a hurry. We were homesick for Portugal. On the bright side, we had time to visit friends and families that  the cost of phone calls prohibited. And everyone was encouraging Bethy to walk.

And the summer and the winter were the third year.