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.



The Portugal Adventure – Beautiful Bavaria: The Waiting Lady

The days melted away like a snow cone in summer. There were plenty of things to do at camp when we weren’t sight-seeing. Harry was busy, and though we talked as often as possible, by the last day at camp I still hadn’t heard the words that I was waiting to hear.

On that day, we read a devotional together, and prayed. Then, we talked. Harry said that he sure would like to date me. I responded enthusiastically. He then said, “It would be pretty hard to date with you in the states, and me in Portugal. I felt rebuffed.

What did he mean by that? I was on tenterhooks all day. Every time I added everything up, it did not seem like it should have been a “goodbye, nice to know you.” But it felt like it.

In the afternoon, I wandered around the campground watching the various activities. The castles were on Lake Starnberg, and some of the campers went swimming. Though it was August, the air was too cold in Bavaria for me to want to test the waters!

Lake Starnberg

Some campers played tennis.

Others played volleyball.

Harry and I went to see the sunset on Lake Starnberg.


There were swans.

We took pictures of each other.

Then, we went to get ready for the closing night banquet. Never ever tell me that it takes women longer than men to get ready. I was dressed up, and ready awhile before Harry appeared.

All of my dorm mates asked on a regular basis what was going on with Harry and me. I told them I would like to know that answer to that question, too. That evening, when I was getting ready, they asked again. Remembering the remark of the morning that I did not understand at all, I burst into tears. They gathered around me, and helped me with my hair and makeup, and were so affirming and encouraging that I was able to face the evening with a smile.

Harry appeared in his Portuguese suit. If he wasn’t so tall, he could have passed for a Portuguese man any day of the week. I searched his face, but he wasn’t giving away anything as far as I could tell.

The banquet food was delicious, and I enjoyed our last dinner in Bavaria. The next day, we would begin our journey south back to Portugal.

What would come next?

…and the lady waited…

The next post is here.

The first part of this story may be read here.