The Lost Week

Funny thing happened on the way to Portugal.
Funny thing happened on the way to Portugal.

Last week was a wash for writing, so I’m sending you all a true story about the US Post Office’s quirk when it came to sending mail to Portugal. It did not happen often, but enough to be memorable.

On several occasions our mail from the USA was delayed. It was our primary mode of communicating back in the 80’s. No easily available email or Skype.Two or three times the US Postal service looked at Portugal address and then proceeded to send it to Poland. It was puzzling, but plausible that a harassed Post Office clerk might have accidentally sent it to Poland. The really puzzling misdirected piece of mail took a side trip to Panama before being forwarded to us in Portugal.

Do you have any idea of how that might have happened? Has any of your mail been off on walkabout before it arrived at your mailbox?

The Portugal Years: Year Five, Waiting

Portugal is the university for learning how to wait. Maybe not waiting patiently, but waiting. For instance, if you want a marriage license, first you must stand in the queue with all the other happy couples who are about to embark into wedded bliss.  No one really hurries the process through. An important part of any transactions with the government includes a variety of stamps to affix to the legal document in question. After the government official carefully stamps the paper he hands the certificate over to the owner. Had a baby? Be ready to stand in line. Need a passport? Start really early to apply.

Yep, you need to obtain the correct paperwork and stamps or nothing happens.  That was, however, seldom the end of the story. After the person, relieved  to be done with it, often discovers that it was not the end. Upon arriving at his destination with the correct documentation, he has to give the paperwork to a supervisor to verify it. Whereupon the second official discovers that some stamps are missing and the man has to return to the end of the first queue. The only way to hurry the process is to cross someone’s palms with silver. It’s officially illegal, but if you want to move forward, you need to grease the hand of the one who can hurry things along.

There are ways to help move babies forward, too, but  they reserve those methods for emergencies. Our new baby girl was dilly-dallying in making her début. Her original due date was near the beginning of the new year. Harry was rooting for January seventh – his birthday. She scorned both dates and chose January tenth, which proved from the beginning that she was a girl with a strong mind of her own.  She was Sarah Susanna (Susie), and though she made us wait for her to arrive, she could not want to wait for the delivery room crew to hand her over to her mommy. She protested with great lung opening testifying to her wrath, which stopped as soon as they laid her on me. Harry is wont to say that she had screamed loud enough to peel the paint off of the wall.

Unfortunately, the nursery nurses did not understand Susie’s language. After her birth, they made her wait an hour before they figured out that they needed to bring her to her mother. Then they went all official when they came back later and discovered us doing what mothers and newborns have done since the beginning. They did bend the rules and left her in my room; Susie made sure that she didn’t have to wait anymore.

The next day I waited for Harry to bring Bethy to meet her new sister. Bethy sat on a bench and held Susie on her lap and waited to see what would happen. She wasn’t quite certain what to do with this small person. We waited for three weeks to hear Bethy’s thoughts. Then she looked at me and said, “When are you taking her back?”

Saturday morning and daddy doesn't have to go to work!
Saturday morning and Daddy doesn’t have to go to work!
Sunday morning and time to dedicate the baby.
Sunday morning and time to dedicate the baby.