Monday, November 22, 2010

Obrigada Portugal....and Adeus

This will not be like my other blogs. There will be no mention of delicious foods or exciting explorations in Portugal.

It is Monday, November 22nd and my 33 year old daughter is being tested for cancer. She has been dealing with tests for two weeks and today she went through a surgical biopsy. There will be no results for three more days. The waiting is torturous. She writes of her account at:
She is quite a woman as you will see from her account.

CANCER...This insidious...and has entered my life all too many times. I lost a best friend, the daughter of a friend and others who are close to me.

Just 18 months ago my son Matthew was diagnosed with another form of cancer...Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Fortunately, after four months of hell with chemotherapy, he is a healthy 34 year old man who is stronger and healthier than ever. We are very blessed and one of the lucky ones. Now I leave Lisbon earlier than expected to help my beautiful daughter, mother of three, fantastic wife, accomplished lawyer to fight whatever her illness might be. If it is positive for cancer then we will beat the damn thing AGAIN! We are praying for a million other things less severe. But I know she will get better!
My beautiful daughter, Annie
I do want to finish this blog on a happier note as I will one day look back on this diary and realize though it ended with difficulty, Portugal will be one of the highlights in my lifetime. I have made beautiful friends that I have spoken about in previous blogs. When I said my goodbyes this weekend, many held me and cried with me. All their prayers have filled my heart with love and best wishes for my daughter and our family. For that, I am more than blessed.

I came to a strange country not knowing the language or any person, but I leave knowing the finest of people, feeling an abundance of love in my heart and having wonderful friends. I am still not sure God exists, but I AM sure that the world is filled with incredibly warm and understanding people no matter what their culture, religion and nationality. If that is God's be it. I just think people from all over the world are intrinsically GOOD DECENT PEOPLE despite some bad things that seem to plague our lives.

For four months my friend Maria and I spoke each day, never understanding the others language. We have shared our aches and pains, some laughs and numerous kisses and hugs. She has met the family and friends who have come to visit and they have all experienced her warmth.  She mended Steve's shirt when it needed mending. She cared for us. I will miss my Maria!

my lovely friend Maria

When Mohammad and Assim from Taste of Punjab found out about Annie, they prepared for me their special tea with a pastry and had me sit at their table. They comforted me with their kind words and wrote the Six Kalimas Islam (or the six words) which are prayers I am to repeat for seven days. These prayers they said, will heal my heart and help to make Annie well. I believe what they say...and I believe my daughter will get well. Mohammad and Assim are fine warm people that will be my lifelong friends and my heart hurts to leave them. On a high note, Mohammad had my very sought after copper pots waiting for me when I arrived at their wonderful restaurant yesterday. This man has spent countless hours searching and calling his friends so that I could have these pots. THANK YOU MY FRIENDS!

To the lovely women from the Fulbright foundation that made our transition from the States flawless, I am grateful. I will miss you Otilia, Carla and Paula and I thank you for your friendship and assistance. It was due to the Fulbright organization that we had the extreme pleasure to be invited to the US Ambassador's home, Alan and Nancy Katz. They are incredible people, gracious, intelligent and interesting and I am happy they are representing our country in Portugal. I also thank Fatima and the rest of the embassy staff. And of course Steve's counterpart, Antonio Granada, for wanting Steve to be at the Universidad Nova de Lisboa and to speaking to me ALWAYS about food!

Paulo, my very cute hairdresser
Isabel Santos from Chapitos
Isabel, Fernando, and Sophia...the storekeepers and the restaurant managers who remembered my name and who never once made me  feel like a stupid American for not correctly speaking their language....Obrigada, Obrigada, Obrigada! You all were always so patient and gracious with me and I will miss you all!

Writing a blog has been a wonderful experience and I am happy that I have this as a diary to look back on years from now. For those of you who have been kind enough to follow this blog, I thank you for showing interest in an old woman's ramblings about traveling and eating in another country. To my new friend Peggy who writes a great blog up in Braga, Portugal....I am sorry our opportunity to meet and dine in Porto will be missed. But hey, when you are back in Minneapolis we are a GO for a great meal.

Lastly, the most gratitude goes to my husband of 38 years who has given me a life full of travels, adventures and love. He will remain in Lisbon until December when his Fulbright post is completed. It is due to his brilliant mind that I had this terrific experience in Portugal. I hope that the next 38 will be as adventurous.

Once again Portugal, ADEUS and OBRIGADA until we meet again...and good thoughts to Annie!


  1. I call it "dancing on the skinny branches." Sometimes we are thrust into seemingly impossible situations and we dig deep and actually find the courage and fortitude to make it through. I took the liberty of writing to Annie to express that she is blessed to love and be loved by an incredible family. With love always, Margaret

  2. Ellyn,
    thank you for your delicious blog. As being brought up embedded in the american culture, I always find it interesting to explore how americans see and perceive this country of mine.

    But the most important of all, right now, is your daughter's health. I wish you all the best and fight and kick the beast!

    1 abraço
    Ana Martins