Monday, December 08, 2008

The week I found my cousin in Canada, some long lost friends in the USA, the week that Christmas came and many other things.

Preparations for Christmas were early this year.
Hi again

This week, the week after Aunty Masha’s funeral, has had me thinking more about my family, my Mother’s family and just how few of us are left. Of the 6 brothers and sisters, there were only 4 off springs, possibly because only 4 had children as 2 of the sisters, Olga and Dorothea (Dara) were nuns. These were, Andre, son of Alexander (Sasha), Sophie (Zuka) daughter of Nicolas, Alexander (Sasha), son of Maria (Masha) and George and I, son and daughter of Helene (Lena) – my brother George died in 2001.

I have always been in contact with Sasha who now lives in Spain and also with Zuka who has lived most of her adult life in Yorkshire. However I only ever met Andre once when my Mother and I went to Montreal in 1978 (when I was 21) to meet her brother Alexander (Sasha) for the first time since they parted in Germany in 1945. That was some meeting. When my Uncle Sasha died in 1987, we lost touch with the family. I had googled Andre occasionally but got nowhere until this last week. I wrote and got an immediate reply about which I am very excited. Andre is the only child of the Lieven children to carry on that name. I wonder if he realises that.

This year has been about finding people from my past and so again, thanks to Internet, more concretely LinkedIn, I found Rosa and Angel, our friends from when we first lived in Madrid. Rosa worked with me at Defex, my first place of work and hers too. We were employed as bilingual secretaries and went through a very long process before being taken on. We were going through all the interviews but not once were we told what the company did. When Rosa and I arrived at the offices in the post Madrid business district to sign our contract we wondered what the line of business could be. Rosa wondered whether it was pornography! Amazingly enough it turned out to be the export of weapons, or “defence material” as it was described to us. I will never forget a Señor Ibañez telling us that it was just like selling cars. He asked us whether we had a problem with that. Our morals at the time were less important than finding a full time job, so we just meekly said “no”.

Rosa, of Cuban American origin, and I worked side by side for a few years and were also neighbours. Her husband Angel taught Maths at a Madrid University and got on well with Eladio. But Rosa missed her family in the United States and very soon they decided to return to New York. I only ever saw her once since they left but have never forgotten her. She organised the ceremony of our wedding and was an essential part of my life. We did see Angel again occasionally when he would visit his cousin in Madrid but the last time was over 15 years ago. As with Andre, I wrote to Angel and got an immediate reply with which I am thrilled. It is wonderful to find old friends.

This week has brought bad news again too. On Thursday my niece Marta (on Eladio’s side) rang to say her husband, Fernando, more commonly known as Ministro had lost his Father early that morning. It was not unexpected as that wretched illness cancer had slowly been consuming him for some time. I’m so sorry Minis. I know how you are feeling and my thoughts are with you and your family.

Then the following day, Friday, we got the dreaded phone call we were expecting from José Antonio to announce that Dolores’ Mother, Merche, had passed away that afternoon. She has been suffering for a long time and this was now to be the end of her suffering. However she leaves behind, 4 orphans, Mercedes, Dolores, Esther and Cristina. They already lost their Father some years ago and will be feeling very lost. My heart goes out to them.

The girls have been ill this week with pharyngitis and a nasty cold which actually means they have been a lot at home. Also as this is a bank holiday weekend, for the Spanish Constitution and the Immaculate Conception it has been very much a family weekend.
My ill girlies, Oli and Suzy (in pink)
As we have had a lot of time on our hands this bank holiday weekend, we decided that Christmas should come early this year. Also because Eladio and I will be off to India on Boxing Day, we wanted a bit more time to enjoy the decorations. So up went the tree, last years Ikea lights and lots of mobile musical trees and Father Christmases I couldn’t resist buying at the Christmas market in the Plaza Mayor. Of course, to this we added the lovely decorations we had bought in Stockholm recently.
The Christmas tree.
Talking about India, we are now a little wary or worried about our upcoming trip of a lifetime. So, should we go or shouldn’t we? Well, from a materialistic point of view, maybe we should as we have already forked out quite a bit. On the other hand, there is an awful lot of tension between Pakistan and India, so it’s anyone’s guess. I vote we go, but be cautious right up to the last minute.
I would hate to have to cancel as that would be a bit like the straw that broke the camel’s back in our spate of bad luck. I think we will go in the end but am conscious we are risking it a bit.

Christmas is also creeping up on me at work where I have 3 events left to go out of 4. Last week I organised a press lunch for the key journalists on the occasion of Yoigo’s 2nd anniversary but as it was already December, there was a Christmas touch to the occasion too. We organised a proper “birthday” with gas filled balloons decorating the ceiling and we gave the journalists a bag of sweets as a good bye present. Next week will be the employee’s party and the following week the bloggers and then the children’s party. I also have to do all the gifts and the online Christmas card. So I am very busy on the work front.
The balloons at the company's 2nd birthday
The bag of "birthday" sweeties
Meanwhile I have to do a horrible test at the Montepríncipe Hospital on Tuesday afternoon called a colonoscopy. I won’t go into what it’s about as I’m sure most readers will know what it is. The worst part is the preparations, 3 days of protein only diet and then some awful liquid to be taken.

On the subject of hospitals, Eladio and I went to visit Zena, our Ukranian cleaning lady who has just been operated at the Hospital Clínico San Carlos. She has a tumour in her cheek and will now have to have chemotherapy treatment. That was a depressing thing to do this weekend. We hope she gets better soon.

Finally this has been the week when I have begun to think about writing a book. What book you might say? Well it has to be about my Mother and her family. I have had encouragement from my best friend Amanda who offers to be my editor. Thanks darling. So here you have me thinking the whole time how it should be. It will probably be the story of 4 generations in history, about my maternal Grandmother, my Mother, me and finally my girls, Suzy and Oli. The how and when is now the subject of my thoughts. Suzy made the obvious question by asking me who would buy it. She’s right of course, probably very few people, but then the object is not to write a bestseller, but to record the whole story for my children and for the generations to come.

And on that note of self questioning, I leave these pages again until next week,


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