Monday, May 09, 2011

Goodbye Lancia, reflections on the cycle of life, farewell Seve, the most universal Spanish sportsman of all times and an enjoyable birthday party.

This week we finally replaced the Lancia we bought in 1992.  This is a picture of the four of us in December 1992 about to embark on our first trip in the new car.

Hi everyone,

Hope you had a good week. Mine was ok, nothing really special to report, no trips or fancy events but still lots to tell you as always.

The week started with a pre summer cold which I still haven’t shaken off. However it wasn’t bad enough to send me to bed or put me out of action in any way.

This week we said goodbye to our 19 year old Lancia Dedra car, the first new car we ever bought as a married couple in 1992. It is still going strong and has some life left in it and will be sold for a pittance, if anyone wants it, but is no longer good for long journeys and it was time to get another car for the girls to take its place. We got it at Christmas in 1992 when the girls were just 7 and 8. The photo illustrating this blogpost is of the four of us here outside our old house in Río Tajo, proudly setting off for Montrondo in what we thought at the time was a luxurious car.

The Lancia today, 19 years later, on sale for a pittance!

Who would have guessed then that the girls would drive it when they got older? But they grew up of course and did drive it and now need cars of their own. We bought a second hand Seat Córdoba in the autumn for them to share after getting rid of another automobile legacy, my old Alfa Romeo 146 and first company car from my days at Motorola. Living where we live it is difficult to share cars and as Suzy was starting her new job this morning with Aramark, Eladio thought it fit to buy another second hand car so the girls wouldn’t have to share. That of course meant the end of the Lancia and a welcome to another Seat Córdoba, this time in black; the idea being to avoid any squabbling which is unavoidable when you buy two of anything different for two very close sisters like Suzy and Oli! At least the girls have agreed on which colour car they want so Suzy will be driving the red one and Oli the black one. It's not about horse power for them, but about colour.

20 years have gone past and that and other things made me reflect a bit on our life as I was later to comment to Eladio on one of our walks last week. We are all in a certain stage of the cycle of life but it seems to me that instead of enjoying the moment we are always anxious about the next stage. I mean you get married, fine, you have your children then worry about them eating, sleeping, growing, walking and then think about their schooling. You don’t enjoy that either and are anxious most of the time about their studies, waiting for them to pass their exams and then go to University. Then you are still not happy as you want them to do well and finish. Once they are finished, you are worried about the next stage, will they get a job and when will they leave home? We are at this particular stage in life and I have suddenly realised that we should stop worrying, enjoy the moment and let life take its course. Otherwise we will still be worried when they have jobs and leave home, wondering when they will get married and whether the partner they have chosen is good enough. Then we will wonder when they will have children and the cycle will begin again as we will begin to have the very same worries for our grandchildren as we did for them. The cycle will never end, it will go on but by the time we stop worrying, if we ever do, we will suddenly be old and wonder why we never enjoyed that moment in life or the company of our children instead of thinking about the next step in their future.

Reflecting a bit more, it may be natural to be concerned about the next stage in your or your family’s life but if I look back at my own youth and the youth of many people I know who are my age today, we really shouldn’t worry as life will take its course anyway. We were all once at the same uncertain future as our girls today, leaving home, with precarious jobs, yet we all went on to the next stages without too many hitches and most of us are pillars of society today and even if some of us have had some hitches, then that’s the spice of life. I wonder if you agree. In any case we have taken the decision to enjoy the girls whilst they are still with us and stop worrying about their next stage or even our next stage in life. When I told the girls, Olivia commented “carpe diem” and in a way she’s right but it’s more than that, it’s about seizing the moment and enjoying the journey rather than the destination. Perhaps it’s always been obvious to you but it’s only become obvious to me now. So from now on I shall enjoy life without always thinking about what’s coming next. Or at least I shall try to!

Someone who reached the end of his particular cycle of life this week is the golf legend Severiano Ballesteros, known simply as “Seve” outside Spain. He died on Saturday morning after playing his final game, the one he would never win, the fight against brain cancer. He went far too early in life, aged just 54, my age. I read in one of his countless obituaries that in 2003, “as it became clear that he was in the twilight of his career, he observed philosophically, “You were born, you live and you die and it is the same with golf: you go up, you are there for some time and then you go down”. How right he was. I am no golf fan and have had very little experience with the golfing world but if I were to name just one famous golf player it would be the dashing Spaniard from the town of Pedreña in Santander, Severiano Ballesteros. Coming from humble origins, practising golf with pebble on the beach and furtively at night at the famous Pedreña golf course he became the European King of the sport in the 70’s when he was just a teenager and dominated the sport from then on. He was dashing, talented, amazingly good looking, outspoken, frightened of none and it seems very popular with his opponents.

He won the British Open when he was just 22 in 1979 and then went on to be the first European to win the prestigious Masters Tournament in Augusta.

The dashing 22 year old Seve when he had just won his first British Open

His contribution to golf is phenomenal and one of the many things for which he will be remembered is for changing the Ryder Cup rules, first by changing the tradition of the Americans playing the British to the Americans playing the Europeans and secondly by bringing the location to Europe for the first time ever when he brought it to Valderrama, his native Spain in 1997. He was of course Captain of the team which went on to win. This photo is of Seve with the coveted trophy.

Seve who changed the Ryder Cup rules, holding the coveted trophy as Captain of the winning team in Valderrama, Spain in 1997

He himself said that the happiest moment of his sporting life was when he won at St. Andrew’s in 1984, the birthplace of the game. He called it “my moment of glory, my most fantastic shot. So much so that the picture of me gesturing in triumph is now the logo of my companies”. I think that picture is the most famous one there is of him and I, for one, adore it. It sums up triumph and success but also charisma. He just drew the crowds and made golf an exciting game.

Seve described this moment at St. Andrew's in 1984, as the happiest moment in his life. I love this photo which has become so famous the world round.

In all his obituaries and there are many from the world around, more even than from his native Spain, he is referred to as having charisma. Yes he did have charisma and this weekend it was written of him that when he was in a good mood, "the world smiled with him" that “he could change the weather with his face” and  “the shotmaking, the charisma, the adulation from galleries, the legacy he has left behind, Seve had it all". He had it all and thanks to him Spain began to appear on the sports map of the world, something much needed in the dark era just before and after Franco’s death when Spain was so isolated. He also turned an elitist sport practised by the rich few into a more popular game and he will be remembered for that forever.

I once had a picture of myself with Seve and now unfortunately cannot find it. For I once met the legend too. It was in my Motorola days and we were a minor sponsor at the Spanish Open. I remember we too wanted to get on the band wagon of his popularity and as part of the sponsoring rights, I had negotiated giving him a mobile phone for which I would be able to use the photograph. The year must have been 1994. I left home for the posh Moraleja golf club only to realise I had left the phone behind. Too late to go back for it, I had to borrow one from Marieta, then the sales and marketing manager of the mobile phone chain Nefitel. Seve turned up at our stand with an entourage of PR people, plus his protective brother Baldomero. I was warned that when giving him a kiss on both cheeks that it was his right cheek (or was it his left cheek?) that had to appear for the camera. He of course didn’t know who I was and came expecting to meet a man because my name, Masha, was not Spanish or familiar. He seemed a little disgruntled that I was a young PR woman instead of some important looking top male executive from the company or at least that was what I interpreted. I am sorry now that my experience with him somewhat stains for me the legendary image the world has of him. But it is understandable. After all I was after his fame too and was no one to him.

Despite the incident I have extreme respect for the man and for what he did for the sport, but above all what he did for Spanish sport. After him came others like Miguel Indurain, Fermin Cacho, Fernando Alonso or Rafa Nadal, all ambassadors of sport for this wonderful country. Of all of them I think Seve is the most universal and most respected, at least to judge from the amount of ink used in the media coverage after his death this weekend, most of it being in England and America. I wonder if there would be the same amount of coverage for any of the other sports figures I have just mentioned? Probably not and why? Simply because of his talent? no, I sincerely think it’s because of his charisma too. RIP Seve, the world will never forget you and is truly sorry you did not win your last and most important game.

So true to my newfound decision to appreciate the moment, I certainly enjoyed Susana’s 27th birthday party the next day, taking a big part in the preparations and in the party itself.

Enjoying being with some of Suzy's friends at her birthday party on Sunday
Suzy had some 30 friends for lunch and as usual made far too much food. Poor Norah was locked away for most of the time to avoid her over indulging as there is no gene in her to tell her when she has eaten too much! There were party games too and one of the games we played was “true and false” stories about Suzy’s life. I was the compere for that game and had a field day with the questions, about the time of day she was born, how much she weighed, when she had her first kiss, did her first piercing and some other interesting information her friends had to guess was right or wrong. There were two teams competing and one of the games was arm wrestling. Olivia beat Suzy’s school friend Tef (Estafanía) in this hilarious video filmed by Rocío which I proudly share with you here.
My beautiful girls at Suzy's birthday party yesterday
You can see some more photos of Suzy’s big party here on Facebook which I posted this morning.  The photo I like best  however is one taken by Juli of the 4 of us during the birthday party.  We don't have many good photos of us together so when there is a good one, I treasure it like this one.  Thanks Juli.

A great photo of the 4 of us yesterday at Suzy's birthday party taken by Juli.  Thanks Juli!

And today Monday, Suzy has started with Aramark, the big American food services company. We are proud and happy for her. Thus this week has started off on a good note plus we all had lunch outside together for the first time this year. That always marks for me the beginning of the summer which I always enjoy. But meanwhile I look forward to a nice quiet week, mostly working from home.

I wish you all a good week too.

All the best, Masha.

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