Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Bradford Jesus man, orchids from Thailand, the waiting is over and it’s good news, 32 years of marriage, to Montrondo with Suzy, the furniture came, buying bread in Senra and other stories.

Sunday 23rd August 2015

Suzy at the hospital on Tuesday after the operation surrounded by friends and family
Hi everyone,

Here I am writing again from Montrondo.  It’s a rainy Sunday and whilst everyone is having a siesta it’s the perfect time to write my blog.  It has been a very up and down week as you will find out if you continue reading.

On Monday, my fasting day, there was an item of news that caught my attention.  It was about a man from Bradford in Yorkshire where I grew up called Geoffrey Brindley now aged 88.  He apparently had a stroke after a fall and was in intensive care.  When I saw the photos of him I recognized the man immediately.  I always knew him as the “Bradford Jesus” man who used to walk the streets dressed in a habit and sandals, come rain or shine and used to wave and smile at all and sundry.
The Bradford Jesus Man
I used to think he was a bit of a madman but this week I read that in the 60’s he got a message from God.  He went to live in a cave and meditated for 12 days after which he began walking the streets and has never stopped until he had the fall.  I pray for his recovery.  He was and is a symbol of the city that no Bradfordian could ever forget.
On Monday, a beautiful plant arrived for Suzy.  They were orchids from Thailand that dearest Jackie, John, Rafi and Tal had sent to my oldest daughter the day before her operation.  Jackie knew Suzy had to give up her much looked forward to trip to Thailand with her friends Rocío, Ana, Elena, Chati and Ana because of the operation. So they sent her “something from Thailand” to make up a bit for the lost trip.  What a beautiful thought behind the present!
The orchids from Thailand
That very same day, ironically, there were 2 bombs that exploded in the Thai capital, one of them near a temple much visited by tourists in the centre.  It killed at least 20 people and was directed at tourists.  It was easy to guess the perpetrator. Isis of course.  It felt funny that it had been Suzy’s destination and that now she wasn’t going.  Many people have cancelled their trips there but not the “manada” who will be there by now.  I wish them a safe trip and a wonderful time, albeit without my darling daughter.

Suzy arrived late that night.  We didn’t get to bed until past midnight and had to be up really early the next day to be at the hospital by 7 a.m.  The waiting was nearly over but not quite.  The worst was to come, the last few hours before the operation was over.  I told you Suzy had been diagnosed with endometriosis, a 4cm cyst in her left ovary and a smaller cyst in the right.  What I didn’t tell you here in this blog was that there was also a tumour on the left cyst and that the cancer markers were very high.  So, yes, she and all of us have been worried sick since we got the news at the end of July.  Originally the operation would have taken place after her trip to Thailand but because of the tumour markers, it was put forward to 18th August.  Those 3 weeks seemed eternal.  Suzy went back to London to work to work and keep her mind occupied with other things.  We went to Montrondo and to Santa Pola but there was always a cloud hanging over us as you can imagine. 

We were in the best of hands at the hospital.  Juan, Rocio’s father, is the head anesthetist and he would be in the operation which would be directed by the chief “Manolo”, the gynecologist,a doctor we trusted from the very start because of his experience and bed side manner.  He was a darling.  Soon Suzy was taken away from us and we had to endure nearly 3 hours of waiting without knowing the outcome; scared stiff of course. The operation was to be a laparoscopy, it would last 2 hours and Suzy would be given a general anesthetic which she would be having for the first time. I spent the time on my phone exchanging whatsapp messages with my friends and family and praying. 

When the operation was over, both doctors came out to tell us the outcome and it was good and I nearly cried with joy.  In fact at that moment I felt I was a believer and wanted to thank God and my darling Mother (RIP) to whom I had prayed constantly.  They told us the Pathologist had said the tumour did not look at all malignant (we will have the full results in the middle of September). Thus, Suzy did not have cancer, oh joy of joys.  They had removed the whole of the left ovary as it was completely invaded by the cyst as well as the left fallopian tube.  The right ovary was in perfect shape, not so the right fallopian tube which was damaged.  The damage did not come from endometriosis as the gynochologist had feared but from some past and unknown inflammation and also from adhesions which had stuck her ovaries to her intestines.  The doctor also removed them during the operation. This means that Suzy will be able to be a Mother although she will need help when the time comes.  Thanks to Juan we were able to see her straight after we got the news.  She was very groggy but awake and able to understand when I told her she didn’t have cancer.  She cried and I did too, but they were tears of joy.
Suzy with her father just after the operation
We spent the rest of the day by her bedside where we joined by Olivia and Miguel.  Later some of some of her friends came and we made quite a noise.  Suzy was chirpy and felt no pain as she was being fed pain killers.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of Suzy in hospital surrounded by her friends. We spent the rest of the day with her until we were literally asked to leave. Suzy was not in pain and we gave her dinner before leaving the hospital.  I must admit I was exhausted and so was Eladio.  There was not much to eat at home as I hadn’t done the food shopping for some time (my mind was on Suzy and not on domestic tasks) so we decided to join Oli and Miguel at a lovely place in Majadahonda called El Retoque, a place I highly recommend.

The pain only came the next day and most of it was from wind in her upper body because of the gas injected during the laparoscopy.  As soon as we had finished breakfast on Wednesday morning, Eladio and I headed for the hospital keen to see Suzy and Manuel who would be giving us instructions about her recovery. She took her first steps at midday after which she was discharged and we took her home.

Suzy came home in much pain. She found it difficult to walk and could not bend down.  We put her straight to bed.  Thankfully by lunchtime she was able to make it downstairs and we had a family meal.  My Father was delighted to see her again and to get the good news. 

That afternoon I did the food shopping helped by Miguel and Olivia.  Meanwhile the fruit and flower basket I had ordered for Suzy as a get well present from the family came.  I had ordered it from “Las Naranjas de la China” and this is what it looked like.
The fruit and flower basket from Naranjas de la China
With it came a tin of Crabtree and Evelyn white chocolate and raspberry biscuits.  I have to admit I actually bought 10 more as they are hard to come by!  I brought 3 to Montrondo; one for Dolores, one for Adela and one for Marta.
My favourite biscuits - thanks Naranjas de la China
That evening Juli, the girls’ great friend, came for dinner and Suzy with the pain receding enjoyed a lovely family gathering.  You can’t imagine how good I felt. As Suzy is off her vegan diet and eating fish and eggs (she has been told to follow a strict protein and iron diet to recover faster), I prepared a lovely Swedish dinner; a platter of salmon and prawns on toast which I think is called skagen.
The family dinner with Swedish food the night after Suzy's operation.  I was so happy
On Thursday Suzy felt a lot better although she still had some pain and felt a bit weak.  It was that morning a famous Spanish woman comedian called Lina Morgan died.  I was never a fan of hers but she was something of a national icon.  Olivia reported live that afternoon from the comedian’s house for her TV programme.  Miguel was on site and sent me this photo of Olivia reporting.
Olivia reporting live on the death of Lina Morgan this week
I skipped work that day to spend all the time I could with Suzy.  Some of her friends from “la manada” came to see her including Rocío, Elena, Teresa and the latter’s boyfriend whose name I cannot remember.  I have to say we had a lovely time and I was pleased to see Suzy enjoying their company. That night we had another family dinner.  This time, instead of Juli, we had the pleasure of Elena’s company. But sorry no photos as I forgot to take any.

Friday 21st was our 32nd wedding anniversary. Fancy being happily married for so many years? Well, that is our case. Although I was completely in love the day we married I could not have known then what a happy marriage we would have.  As I said on facebook that morning, Eladio is my friend, my lover, my companion, my doctor, my teacher, my plumber, my gardener, my electrician and the best husband and father in the world.  I got many remarks to the comment; the best one coming from Vicente who said “the plumber thing is very important” hahaha.
Our wedding day 32 years ago - 21st August 1983
We would be celebrating later that day with a special anniversary lunch at the Parador in Benavente on our way to Montrondo with Suzy.  Suzy would be going with us to the village for a recovery holiday instead of to Thailand with her best friends.  Dear Suzy has been such a brick about it all and I haven’t heard one complaint from her, either about the operation or about missing the trip.  I love her positive attitude. 

Whilst Eladio and I were preparing for the trip, Suzy’s friend Pili from their school days came to have breakfast with her.  I caught both lovely girls on camera and want to share this photo with you.
Pili and Suzy having a very healthy breakfast on Friday
We left at about 11.30 with little Pippa and a very full car.  Apart from our luggage and food we were taking all sorts of things for the new house.  The purpose of the trip for Eladio and I was not actually a normal long weekend there. We were going because on Saturday morning the lorries with all the furniture we had ordered from Ikea were coming from Madrid.  It was rather annoying that the furniture was to be installed inside an unfinished house. The builders have had lots of problems with the carpenters and other suppliers probably because it is August, the holiday month in Spain. The truth is there has been literally no progress on the house since we last came which is infuriating. 

In any case we set off in a very good mood and the three of us looked forward to lunch at the Parador in Benavente.  As usual, both Eladio and I enjoyed the dish of chickpeas we always order there and which are from a village called Fuentesauco, famous for these pulses.
Chickpeas served at the Parador in Benavente
As we left I asked Suzy to take this year’s anniversary picture and here it is.  The difference from other years as that this time little Pippa is in the picture too! – We are no longer 2 but 3 hahaha.
This year's anniversary photo
We got to Montrondo in the middle of the afternoon and arrived to beautiful sunshine.  Waiting for us there were Toño, Dolores and my mother-in-law Ernestina as well as Adela and Primo.  Also waiting for us and for Suzy was Marta, Adela’s daughter and Suzy’s beloved cousin.  Marta and Suzy are very close but don’t see each other very often and both of them were looking forward to catching up.  Of course all the family was dying to see Suzy after the operation and to give her a hug and let their emotions flow.  A few tears of joy were shed that day.
Lovely Marta
The first thing we did after arriving and greeting the family was to show Suzy the “new house”.  She loved it but said she had thought it would be “more finished”.  Well, we did too.  Later we all meandered to Adela’s house to have coffee or tea there which is where we always go.  You see there is no bar, restaurant or shop in the village.
Tea and coffee at Adela's house just after we arrived on Friday
Later I went on the evening walk to Murias and back with some of the family. Suzy has not been up to walks unfortunately. Then it was home for dinner at Toño and Dolores’s where we always stay.  Afterwards Suzy and Marta went down to Murias to the nearest bar, La Palloza.  Here is a photo of them enjoying the evening with other friends from Montrondo including J.M, Suzy’s childhood friend from the village.
Suzy and Marta with their friends in Murias on Friday night
It rained overnight but was dry on Saturday morning when I woke up at 07.20.  I had a coffee with Pippa by our house where we now have internet.  At 8 am I was on the daily morning walk to Murias and back with Toño and Dolores. We had breakfast with Eladio, Suzy and the “abuela” when we got back and very shortly afterwards the carpenters arrived.  We could hardly believe they were there after having laid half the floor 3 weeks or so ago and not coming back since.  They promised me all the floors and the staircase would be finished by next Tuesday.  As soon as they arrived, lo and behold, the 2 Ikea lorries from Madrid arrived followed by our builders. I have never seen so much activity at the house and Eladio was as busy as a bee and happy as little boy with new shoes the whole day.  I was happy of course, but didn’t like seeing the furniture being installed in an unfinished house.  I will love it when it is all finished but do not get much joy from the process, particularly as it has taken so long (nearly 1.5 years now).
Furniture arriving on Saturday morning
I left Eladio to it and went to have coffee at Adela’s place again.  Marta took this great photo of the ladies’ coffee morning.  Beyond their house you can see the potatoes my English friend Keith helped to plant when he and Lorraine were here earlier in the year.
Coffee at Adela's
That day I made English style fish and chips for everyone which is sort of funny here in Montrondo.  However every single piece of fish and all the chips were polished off by all.  The same happened to the gigantic Eton Mess I made.  Here is the family about to devour the fish and chips around the table at Toño and Dolores’ house.
I made fish and chips for everyone on Saturday
Whilst everyone slept off the food Suzy and I sunbathed outside.  Later we went to Adela’s place again, this time to have tea.  That evening in nearby Murias de Paredes Adela’s neighbor and our friend Manolita was starring in a comedy play called “Rabbits”.  When I got there the place was so full there were no seats left.  When Suzy arrived all we could do was take a photo of the play starring our friend and leave as we could hardly see over people’s heads.  I heard later it was a great success.  Manolita was a star and is a super actress. As I was leaving I was approached by a polite middle aged man called Leopoldo who told me he read my blog.  He wanted me to write more about Murias de Paredes and not so much about Montrondo.  I was very flattered he read my blog but I don’t know much about Murias although I walk there every day.  In the past though I do know that for Eladio’s family going to Murias was like going to the big town and they would get dressed up to go.  Today there are probably no more than 40 people living in Murias. There are about 15 in Montrondo.  Thanks Leopoldo for approaching me and thanks for reading my blog. 
Manolita in the play yesterday in Murias
Whilst the play was going on Suzy, Nuba, Pippa and I went to La Palloza for a cup of coffee.  We got talking to an 8 year old boy called Manu who would have loved to stroke little Pippa.  I’m afraid Pippa doesn’t take kindly to strangers, which is very embarrassing for me.  She has an instinctive protective spirit and barks at anyone she doesn’t know.  Here is a photo of Suzy bringing the coffees to our table whilst we waited for the play to finish.
Suzy bringing the coffee at La Palloza yesterday in Murias
This morning rain threatened on our walk.  Today I went with Toño, Dolores and Adela as well as all 3 dogs.  Here is a photo of the 3 women by the Montrondo sign on our way back.
With Dolores and Adela on our walk this morning
I made fabada (bean stew) for lunch and whilst it was bubbling on Dolores’ hob, Suzy and I went again to Adela’s house for a cup of coffee.  We also went to say goodbye to Marta who was leaving for Ponferrada where she lives.  We could have gone to mass today like the rest of the village but preferred to go to Senra, the next village after Murias, to buy bread.

It’s quite an experience buying bread in Senra where the bakery seems to have existed for more than a century.  This was where Eladio and José Antonio had to walk to buy bread for all the family to last a few days.  Their load was very heavy and Eladio, being the oldest and the strongest always carried a heavier load than José Antonio who was younger and not a good eater.  So every time I go to buy bread at Senra, apart from enjoying the romance of an old fashioned bakery, the image of the two young brothers comes to mind.  On the spur of the moment I asked Dolores to take a photo of me outside the bakery with the 2 loaves of bread and here I am.  It’s a great picture. Thanks Dolores. I should add too that the bread from Senra is the best in the area.
Buying bread in Senra this morning
For lunch we were 8 around the table at Toño and Dolores’ house.  Apart from my fabada, Adela had made a lovely rice and ribs dish which we polished off.  It started raining again just around lunch time and has not stopped since.  Just as I was half way through writing this post, Pili (Eladio’s youngest sister) and her husband Andrés, arrived to pick up Trebol their dalmation dog which had been pining for Pili since she left last Thursday.  They had been away in Málaga visiting their daughter Paula’s future in-laws. 
Pili and Paula in Málaga this week
They couldn’t stop for long as Pili starts work again tomorrow but there was time for tea and coffee before they went.  There was also time to show them the progress on our house with all the new furniture. 

Tomorrow Suzy and I will be leaving for Madrid.  Eladio’s staying behind as there are many tasks for him to do around the house. He also has to see the TV man, the electrician and hopefully the builders will show their faces again.  They may even come from Ikea this week to install the kitchen.

We need to get home to be with Oli who is pretty alone and also for our home help Salud to take her two days off. Also Suzy has an appointment at the hospital on Wednesday morning. But of course I will be telling you all about next week next Sunday or maybe Monday as on Sunday week Suzy will be returning to London and I want to spend as much remaining time as I can with her and with Oli of course.  I can foresee a lot of quality girly time this week coming.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great week.  Happy holidays for some and sorry if any of you are still at work or returning to work.

Cheers till next time

A very happy and relieved Masha

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