The back to work stress is gone. Taking its place is another type of stress. The you've-got-to-get-this-done-yesterday type of stress. To add to the usual beginning-of-the-school year chaos, there is personal tragedy. My co-worker's mom was diagnosed with cancer. She had surgery and it seems to have eradicated the cancer, but will have to undergo all the treatments associated with this illness.
The real tragedy is that V's mom does not want to follow treatment and is making this situation difficult for my co-worker. So much so, that she's had to quit working to no only take care of her mom, but also try to regroup, as she is an emotional and psychological mess. It's such a pity, V was great with the kids and and excellent friend and co-worker. We'll miss you and be certain that you will be in my and my family's prayers.
On a lighter note:
This week we celebrated Halloween and Castañada. It was and intense week to say the least! We prepared our craft projects: pumpkins, bats. black cats, skeletons, witches hats and spiders for Halloween. And chestnuts, snails, painted leaves for Castañada.
On Tuesday, María Castañera came to visit the children at school. We sang songs and made panellets.
According to tradition, María Castañera (Castanyera in Catalan) is an old lady that cells roasted chestnuts in the village plaza. On the day before All Saints Day, she comes down from the mountain and visits school children to give them the chestnuts she's gathered and roasted for them. A great time was had by all!
Earlier that morning we had made panellets. They are little round balls made with boiled potato, sugar, ground almond and egg yolk. The señoritas mixed all the ingredients and the children rolled the dough into little balls and then covered them with pine nuts, minced almonds or cherries. It was a huge mess, but we laughed, we cried, we wished we were 3, 4, 5 years old again!
On Wednesday the 31st, we celebrated Halloween. The class of 5 year old went off on a field trip to celebrate the Castañada with the kids in primary. The 3 and 4 year olds stayed behind, put on their Halloween masks and sang Halloween, Castañada and Autumn songs. We watched videos and generally took it easy.
(You see D., there's a reason why I come home so exhausted!)
Now, I have a 4 day weekend ahead of me. Believe me, I need it!
Back home and no time to miss anyone. School starts in about two weeks and I have a month worth of work to do. This is the part I hate so much about vacation.
Since September 11 is a holiday here (nothing to do with the tragedy in NYC)and we get a long weekend, we are going away. This will me our last taste of summer and possibly the last time we go to the beach this year. I don't particularly like going... Too much sun and sand, but Julian loves it so much, that I'd be a "bad" mom if I didn't put up with is for him.
We'll be going to Sant Martí d'Empúries in the Costa Brava. It's a quaint little sea side village. There is nothing left of the VI century village that stood, but its replacement maintains all the medieval charm. The attraction (for non-beach goers) is the Romanesque style church and what is left of the village walls,
The church is small but impressive. The early Christian white marble altar is unique as is the main altar decorated with horseshoes and is dated at around the 10th century. My favorite is the baptismal font. It brings joy to my heart to know that thousands and thousands of babies have been baptized there since the 12th century.
It's always difficult to come home after vacation. But not because I know that I'll be faced with the routine of going back to work. It's because of who I'm leaving behind. I suppose it happens to everyone who has elderly parents and lives in another state, another country, another continent.
And this time around, it was more evident that my parents had crossed the line that divides old from elderly.
Dad always cut a dashing figure. Handsome, tall, dark hair, skin browned by the sun and so many years of working outdoors. When I think about Dad, that's the photograph in my mind. Now his hair is gray and thinning (but at 74 he still has most of it). He's not as tall as I remember him and he walks with a limp that makes him look even shorter. He is still the most handsome man I know. Is that looking at him through adoring-daughter's eyes? You bet! What kind of daughter would I be if I didn't think so?
And Mom. After my teen-aged battles and young adult scrimmages, I've come to see the error of my ways and come to love my mother with the same intensity that I "hated" her at 16 (dumb child that I was). She is a truly good person. I've not personally known a person that shines the love of Christ through everything she says and everything she does. It is even more amazing because her personal cross is heavy. The daily pain she must endure makes her understand and want to lessen the pain of others. But when I look at her and see how her illness has aged in the the two year interval between my visits, I have come to realize that Our Lord will call her home sooner or later. Dear Lord your will be done, but my selfishness wants it to be later.