The Portuguese Years: Year Six – Visiting the Grandparents (1985)

The girls were growing up so quickly. Their grandparents had never even seen Susie in person. And I don’t know any grandparents who would find photos of their grandchildren an adequate substitute. Not even close. There may or may not

Harry and I pow-wowed about ways and means, and laid plans. Harry would not be able to go because he could not be spared for two months during camp season. He would miss us less while we were gone. Or so we believed.

And so one sunny June day Harry took us to the airport and helped with luggage. We kissed him good-by at the gate, and the girls and I boarded a jet plane bound for New York City.

Looking back, I think I had temporarily lost my good sense taking two such young children on my own. But it seemed like a good idea at the time. Susie had to sit on my lap the whole trip, and Susie was still nursing,  Bethy had a seat of her own was a great help keeping her sister entertained. Both girls were reasonably well-behaved (as opposed to the infant behind us who cried. A lot.)

We arrived in New York about seven hours after we left but having gained some time as we flew. Two sleepy small girls and I were overcome by the size of the airport. Family members were there to pick us up and take us to Pennsylvania. Our summer adventure had begun.

Jet plane

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Throwback Thursday

My brother and me circa 1959 standing outside my grandparents' back door.
My brother and me circa 1959 standing outside my grandparents’ back door.

This was taken shortly after we moved back into my grandparents’ home where we stayed until my dad got his degree in Bible. We moved from the prairie of SE Colorado to just outside of Philadelphia – the city that my dad called The City of Brotherly Shove. When we left this house, I was four and an only child. In this picture I was about seven and had a baby brother. It doesn’t take long for things to change!

The Portugal Years – Year Three: The Baby and Her Grands

On the third day after birth, the pediatrician, Dr. Maria Helena Freitas checked Elisabeth and sent us home. I felt  apprehensive. After babysitting for many years, I faced the one child who would be living with me for years on end…sobering thought.

My parents arrived the next day and stayed for a week. Until that point, the only time they had been out of the country were on day trips  to Canada. After a five-hour time difference, and a 7 hour flight, they arrived sleepy and with their heads spinning. But Mom wasted no time honing in on Elisabeth and holding her. Until it was time for the baby to eat.

After reading every bit of information on feeding babies that I could find, I chose to feed Elisabeth the way mothers (or wet nurses) have fed  babies for centuries. The manuals described what  to expect from the baby, and Bethy fell into the category of babies who take so long  to eat that by the time she finished it was time to start over again. My mother was worried that she wasn’t getting enough to eat, and added that she thought that I would get tired of it pretty fast like she did. (I didn’t get tired of it, and Dr. Maria Helena said Bethy was thriving.) But, Mom had plenty of other opportunities to play with Beth.

The next morning my mom offered to make breakfast for Harry. He thanked her and told her what time he needed to leave to catch a bus to get to work on time. Imagine being affected by jet lag while trying to cook oatmeal in a country where you cannot read what is on the label. Furthermore, it’s a strange kitchen and you don’t know where to find the cookware and utensils. On top of all that, you had to figure out the stove. Yeah, Harry did end up having breakfast at a pastelaria in Lisbon. Mom cried.

On Saturday of the week they were there, I took Mom on an outing. After I bathed and fed Elisabeth we left her with the men and set off for the outdoor market. I gave Mom the 50 escudo tour, and we shopped for veggies and other necessities. Mom was boggled by the open market. We carried the groceries home, and two worried men met us at the door. During the 45 minutes we were shopping, they had had to change a dirty diaper, and apparently barely made it through. My dad had changed diapers, but not almost square ones. Harry had never changed one. Between the two of them, though, they got the diaper on her. Not well, but, as they say, good enough for government work.

Beth and Granddad
Bethy and my dad.