The Portugal Years: The Fourth Year – And Home Again…

What had loomed as an interminable furlough abruptly developed into a frenzied stretch of friends claiming our last few weeks before we left the states.  Where I had been anxious about the prospect of spending six to seven months in my in-laws’ home I had wistful thoughts of their love and support. My father-in-love even helped me beat Harry in Parcheesi.  And, Pai Natal’s bells were ringing (Father Christmas).

We had become accustomed to simple holiday celebrations, and this one….  Loving friends and family kept bringing just one more thing. The moment to begin packing hesitated just around the corner.

The tree tickled the ceiling diffusing holiday cheer; the pile of wrapped gifts grew where curious eyes wandered. Harry lobbied to open the gifts first thing in the morning since he wouldn’t be there for Christmas for a long time. His  mother stood firm. Everyone must eat Christmas dinner before even a corner of a piece of wrapping paper could be breached.

Bethy and her cousin Katy got their first Barbie dolls. Toys, clothes, books and odds and ends of gifts of things that we could not find in Portugal littered the floor. It was fun watching the children’s wonder.

Harry had asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Well, I knew what I wanted, but truly doubted he would be able to buy it. I seldom ask for specific gifts, but when I do, it is always practical and unfailingly a big-ticket item. You see, the mixers available in Portugal were kind of flimsy. I had already taken one down. So, I asked for a Kitchenaid mixer with accessories. I cooked a lot  from scratch. Harry (perhaps with some help) got the mixer for me. Or for himself! In 32 years of hard use, I’ve only had to replace the sieve because blackberry seeds are big and tough.

While Harry was still scratching his head trying to figure out how to pack the mixer in a suitcase, the families of some of our colleagues sent some things for us to take back to Portugal for some of the the other team members. It was a tradition. Happily for us, we both got two suitcases each and carry-ons.

We left on January seventh, Harry’s birthday. His mom and I felt sad that we would be traveling on his special day, so we conspired.  In spite of the pastries  in Portugal, his favorite sweet treat is a Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet. We hid them from him in my carry-on. A quiet word in the flight attendants’ ears sufficed. Right on the dot of 00:01 on January seventh, 1983, the flight attendants cued the other passengers and walked to Harry’s seat singing happy birthday to him.

Courtesy of TastyKake
Courtesy of TastyKake

Some Christmas Photo Memories.

Kitchenaid Mixer
Kitchenaid Mixer
Bethy and her cousin, Katy
Bethy and her cousin, Katy
Aunt Sally reading a book to the girls.
Aunt Sally reading a book to the girls.
Bethy's favorite toy
Bethy’s favorite toy
Aunt Nancy, Bethy and Uncle David Price
Aunt Nancy, Bethy and Uncle David Price
Grandma in the kitchen while Tim and David wash the dishes.
Grandma in the kitchen while Tim and David wash the dishes.

 

 

 

Daddy, Bethy and Aunt Nancy Price Price
Daddy, Bethy and Aunt Nancy Price Price

 

Tim and Harry
Tim and Harry
Cousin James
Cousin James
Little Mary
Little Mary
Advertisements

18 thoughts on “The Portugal Years: The Fourth Year – And Home Again…

  1. How neatio. Imagine getting “Happy Birthday” sung to you on a plane! Very cool. And the sweets were awesome, I’m sure.

    I like monopoly. But I think I should start off with 4 $500 bills.

    Like

      1. Laughing – my dearly beloved is a rather competitive person and can get obnoxious when he is playing games. He’s never beaten me in dominoes, either.

        Wait! Are you saying I’m like those kittens?

        Like

    1. *laughing* And the professor’s never played dominoes! I think I lose most games. I used to be competitive, I think. I just have fun losing now. It’s a wonder.

      Well…no! Wouldn’t you rather be a tiger?

      Like

  2. Oh, Susan, your writing has gotten SO good. I enjoyed this SO much and got teary-eyed as you told the story then looking at the pictures. Those pics are from my years as a child. Your memories are helping me resolve some really tough issues I still am struggling with. Thank you, my friend. Thank you. Love, Amy

    Like

    1. Thank you, Amy Love. When I look at those picture of yore, I always hear Emily in Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town where she realizes how much she missed in life. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the crazy day to day and to miss what is important. Sometimes I think I should be doing something more important that tapping out these histories on my computer, but you have encouraged me that what I do IS important. Big hugs and love coming your way. Susie

      Like

      1. What you are doing IS important, Susan. It is difficult for me to put into words but it is almost like your posts are putting salve on my heart to bring healing to it. I get a very peaceful feeling from your posts and a sense that things within are being released finally that need to be. (((HUGS))) Amy

        Like

    1. Thank you, Rachel. I like reading your stories about your family. You, and some other bloggers have been a huge encouragement about AS. My husband has AS, and they didn’t test for it when he was born in 1953. I kept wondering why we had so much trouble communicating and why he did certain things that I did not understand. We just recently found out, and it’s still challenging for both of us, but I have done a lot of research and it touched my heart when I read about how difficult life can be for a person with AS. It just blew me away to realize that he persevered because he loves me. We’ll be married 35 years in June.

      Like

      1. That’s so amazing! You are really patient to stick with him because I can tell you, we Aspies can be a handful! LOL! Seriously, though, I know several people with varying degrees of AS and most of them are very productive. Actually three of them are engineers and I think engineers are known to think differently anyway. 😉 One was a chemical engineer and then a few years later decided to change and went to law school and he does very well. The truth is, we really don’t like change, so if your husband has found that he can communicate with you, I’m sure he’s more grateful than you realize that you understand him. I can tell you, it does often feel like we’re alone in a roomful of people if that makes sense. I wouldn’t wish this brain on anyone. But having someone to talk to who actually listens is a true asset. 🙂 God bless you both!

        Like

    2. We have had our challenges over the years for sure. The hardest thing was the meltdowns. I interpreted them as anger directed at me personally. I was pretty much at the end of my rope when I learned that he has AS. Then I understood why he does some of the things he does. Stuff that puzzled me from the get-go, but who doesn’t have some personal ticks, right? And I grew up in a very quirky family the members of which were quite often inappropriate.

      See, his mother didn’t know what was going on when he was young. She did know he was smart and that he needed help. She dedicated herself to teaching him social cues and stuff like that from the time he could sit up pretty much. When he started school, she spent every school day after school teaching him his lessons in ways he could interpret. In short, she is a saint.

      By the time we started dating, he had already learned a lot of coping strategies. But dating was new territory. He really pissed me off and then he stopped talking to me for about seven years. By the time we started talking again, he was overseas in Portugal working as the business manager of an American religious organization. He did well in Portugal. The Portuguese loved him (and they later loved me, too).

      When we had to come back to the states, it was the hardest thing we ever had to do. We loved Portugal and the Portuguese people. We were both angry about it for a long time. It was after we’d been in the states for a year or so that I noted some unusual things he would do. I took it in my stride for the most part.

      After all three of our children got married and left home, stuff like that became more noticeable, and I could not get a grip on what was going on. I got depressed and developed an anxiety disorder due to not knowing ever when or why the Jack in the Box was going to pop again.

      Once I knew he had AS, I started researching and reading like a mad woman. The really frightening thing were the marriage statistics. As I read and studied, I was able to pinpoint some of the stuff he’s done down through the years that made no sense to me. I found a book written by an NT woman who is married to an Aspie. That book is worth its weight in gold. Knowing how to communicate effectively with my Aspie has made me unafraid of the jack in the box.

      We are not ever going to be the typical American couple. But we will be us. When I think of how hard he has had to work just to get through each day in a world filled with NT people, I know he loves me. We have a faith community that all think that Harry could get the US out of the recession we are in if people would just listen to him. So we are blessed, and I am very aware of that.

      Thanks for stopping and commenting.

      Like

      1. You hit the nail on the head when you realized you couldn’t take the meltdowns personally. And since I’ve been trying to think of some aspect of Autism to write about on the first Sunday of each month, I think you have just given me June’s subject matter. Thank you! 😀

        Like

Comments are closed.