But we've all survived them and happily to say, we've come out stronger as a result. Cesar Snr underwent surgery on Monday and had a quadruple cabbage (coronary artery bypass graft) and the surgeons and medical team are pleased with his progress. Amelia, my mother-in-law, has her three sons with her and my FR reports that she is fine and coping well. Lots of family members have made the journey from their various outposts in either Valladolid or Leon to visit - which has caused the particular problems as intensive care visiting time is limited to half an hour a day and two visitors only at a time - and Spanish families can be guaranteed to turn out in strength for hospital visits. FR's own recent hospital experience was of being surrounded by lots of family members - not his own, but those of his fellow room-mates. FR has been out of Spain quite a while but even he was surprised when a couple of tios plonked themselves down and made themselves comfortable on his bed and then spent the whole time chatting to him, rather than to their own relation. In fact, one of the tios - (tio is uncle in Spanish but is also used as a man-to-man sort of greeting, a bit like chap or fellow...(showing my age) or mate or bloke... or whatever word men used to greet each other) who visited several times was a Granada gypsy - Granada has lots of gypsy families and also lots of real gypsy flamenco - and had a bar to which he cordially and generously invited FR to visit anytime where he would be treated to a night of music like he'd never heard before. I don't know if either one of them will remember this offer in a few months time but I might just remind him one evening when we have nothing better to do.
Happy in the knowledge that all was going as well as it could up in Valladolid, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, as did the children - who adore their Yayo as he is so totally unique - like a big gruff, white-haired bear who sometimes might slip them a few euros but who also might chase them out of the garden with a big stick! All I had to do now was to prepare for my first day back at the academy - four and a half hours of classes one after the other - I was both looking forward to it and dreading it a bit. The dread was relieved after I'd spoken to my lovely neighbour, Isa, who has two young boys with whom Romy and Ruy have established a firm friendship. I told her my predicament about starting work when FR was away and she'd said not to worry and to send the children over to her whenever I needed to go. Then she went on to say that if necessary, she'd give them lunch or fetch them from school and they could even sleep over if they wanted. I really can't express how grateful and happy I was to hear this because I had been acutely aware of how 'alone' I might have been here - FR away and no family of any description within hundreds of kilometres - but now I have another wonderful neighbour and kind people next door as well. I also know that I could ask Belen and Pedro - our ex-next-piso neighbours to help me if I was stuck. Pedro helped us move house at the end of June and we were poised to return the favour as they were also moving into a new house - only they moved the day FR has his operation! Truly sod's law.
I took Isa a little bunch of flowers to say thank you - no big deal in England, where friends exchange a few flowers for any possible excuse; token gestures of friendship, gratitude and love and a gesture that I heartily approve of - and I was glad I did as Isa was blown away by this little act. Flowers in Spain seem to be given only on formal occasions and are very often stunning, spectacular displays. I'd been a little worried that my simple bunch of carnations might seem insignificant but I was delighted that Isa really appreciated the gesture - I hope now to start a new trend in Alcala la Real.
And so, yesterday afternoon, back to teaching, safe in the knowledge that I wasn't leaving the children alone in the house and the hours flew by and it was so lovely to see my students again although el crisis (pronounced here most dramatically as creesees) did mean that there were rather fewer in some of the classes than last year. No suggestion yet that I should get paid less though...
And today, my mum flies in from Manchester to Malaga, albeit for a brief visit but one which we can now look forward to even more now that Yayo is doing so well. FR might even get back before my mum leaves. Must go clean up a bit more - I'm sure she will only have eyes for her grandchildren and so won't be inspecting for dust or dirt but I can't help feeling she might just spot a bit here and there and that will never do!
Mum arrived safely and we've spent a lovely evening all together - Romy pressing for stories of what I was like as a little girl and really enjoying not being outnumbered by the boys for once. It's so lovely to see the children through someone else's eyes for a change and as I listen to them talking to their grandmother - whom they have not seen for over a year - I'm really very proud of them. And tomorrow, Mum and I can sit and chat like in the old days, making up for lost time, as chatting is something we do rather well together.