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.

 

 

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24 thoughts on “The Portugal Years: Year Five, Waiting

  1. Papiamento is a language of the Caribbean. It’s a mixture of Portuguese and African languages. The Portuguese early explorers left their mark on most of the Caribbean, including, it would seem, the time honored Island tradition of ‘soon come’ (or in Trinidad: ‘Just now’). ‘Soon come’ doesn’t mean anything is coming soon. It means we’ll get to it when we get to it. A most excellent philosophy in this rush-rush get all you can and can all you get world we live in. Unless of course you’re standing in the queue for stamps.

    Another outstanding chapter Susan.

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    1. Thank you, Mr. Spencer. The slower pace of living is one of the things that I most miss. People stopped and talked and listened, and there was always another bus if you missed the first one. The culture suited me perfectly. The stamps, of course, were of the sort that made them another way to tax – something our forbears eschewed.

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      1. I am certainly glad that you didn’t take her back. I do still feel a bit and some bits that way about babies. All those guessing games about what they want.

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        1. I did not really feel that way most of the time. I grew up in the era when “Because I am your mother and I said so” was prevalent. I tried to give all of you a voice, but sometimes the above was the only solution at the time. And there was no way I was going to take her back after all I went through to get her. 😉

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  2. Lovely, touching pictures. I got a kick out of your description of the bureaucracy. Bethy’s comment was priceless, and illustrates the freedom of being a child! 😉

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    1. Well, she did get over it, and she has told me she’s glad I didn’t get rid of Sarah. 😀 It came as a surprise to me. I have three younger siblings, but we are none of us close in age like Bethy and Susie are.

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  3. OH. MY. GOSH. How precious! That one liner of Bethy’s has me roaring! When are you taking her back? says it all! I am laughing SO hard, Susan. Thank you so much for this adorable post!!! You made my day, friend! Love, Amy

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