Bethy arrived in the states when she was 9 months old, and when we returned to Portugal, she was sixteen months old. We were traveling with a sixteen-month-old tired walking, talking toddler – still without a seat. And of course, airline policy was if you don’t have a seat you get nothing to eat. We had packed some snacks for Bethy that included crackers, a couple of bananas and juice. Our flight left JFK around seven p.m. EST, and we expected to land in Lisbon near dawn. It was about a seven hour flight. All would be well.
Bethy, to my delight, fell asleep about two hours into our flight. I am always amazed by the people who can sleep on the plane. I can’t. The best I could manage on that long flight was to close my eyes and let my ears do the working. On some level I believed that God was in charge and would take care of us; but all other levels were on red alert.
The flight attendants served donuts, orange juice and coffee. We could almost smell the familiar aromas of Lisbon. When the captain began to speak on the intercom, we were confident that he was preparing us for landing.
The year was 1983. Lisbon airport had not yet installed radar at the airport. The Captain’s message was not what I was expecting. He told us that heavy fog engulfed the Lisbon Airport and it was impossible for us to land in Lisbon. Before we could blink, we were on the way to Faro in the south of Portugal where the plane refueled. The captain called for our attention again. This time, he gave us the news that Lisbon was still out of reach. Then he added that Madrid was clear and we were going there to have a layover there till the fog lifted.
In Madrid, we exited the plane. Then we sat and waited in the terminal and we waited for several hours. We had one quickly deteriorating banana left for Bethy and nothing for us. And no money to buy anything. Fortunately, I was still nursing her, and we did have plenty of water to drink.
Eventually, we embarked again and landed in Lisbon about noon. We got in a taxi and headed for home. It was early to bed that night, and Bethy slept well until 7 a.m. – EST.
Do you have any interesting traveling stories?
During the first week of April, 1979, Harry arrived stateside. His parents picked him up at the airport (I was teaching) and he had to listen to them tell him just how sneaky he had been by keeping his interest in me a secret.
Everything was pollinating, adding to the aggravation of jet lag. It was the second round of pollination that year for him; Portugal’s pollen had already come and settled down.
Nevertheless, as soon as he possibly could, he borrowed his mother’s car and made a beeline to my house. How glad I was to see him after what seemed an unending year. We had a lot of planning to do with our wedding coming up in approximately three months, but that visit was reserved for sweeter things.
Though Harry had quite easily kept the secret of my Portugal visit the previous year, he let the cat out of the bag when my attendants held a surprise shower at my church. Apparently, he has compartmentalized his secret keeping skills. It was a lovely evening just the same.
The list of things that had to be decided on and dealt with felt like an imposition on our time when all we wanted to do was to make goo-goo eyes at each other! Invitations had to be addressed and mailed out. I had set a number limit before Harry came back, but his family’s list alone had around 250 people on it. Eloping was beginning to look even more attractive.
Marital counseling was another piece of the time pie – my pastor was in charge of that. I asked my dad to officiate at the ceremony. He kind of looked at me the way Abraham might have looked as he got ready to sacrifice Isaac. But he said he would. We asked my pastor to officiate until my dad and mom “gave” me away. To keep Harry’s pastor in the loop, we invited him to pray the benediction at the end of the ceremony. And we began to memorize our vows.
We ordered flowers from the father of one of my students, who was a wholesaler, and enlisted the support of different church folks for decorating the gym. Some families baked quick breads for the reception. Wedding gifts began to arrive. Tuxedos were reserved. Then Harry told me something that I did not want to hear; I was required to attend Missionaries in Training at the mission organization’s headquarters in northern New York state. They had scheduled it for the first week in June. Before school was out. One more thing on the list.