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A Tale of 2 Papas: The Pope visits Portugal: and Saying Goodbye to the First Man I ever loved.
Two mini-posts in one.
Sometimes my personal experiences or the topics I want to write about don’t merit an entire blog post, so I don’t always write about them. So, here are two mini posts – one about the pope’s recent visit to Portugal and one about saying goodbye to the first man I ever loved.
Mini-post 1: The Pope visits Portugal.
On August 3rd, Pope Francis (also known by the Catholic faithful as “Papa”), visited Portugal as part of the celebration of World Youth Day (WYD) – a celebration that I was unfamiliar with until I moved here but apparently, it’s a big deal. According to this resource, World Youth Day is an international gathering of young Catholics who come together from all parts of the world on a pilgrimage with the Pope in a powerful moment of evangelization for youth. The focus is to build a more just and compassionate world. The celebration is held every two or three years in a different city and country.
Weeks prior to the event, stages were getting erected in Lisbon, taxi cabs had the Pope’s image displayed on the side doors, and vendors and grocery suppliers were getting ready for the expected influx of tourists and pilgrims alike.
Safe Communities Portugal reported that 16,000 members of security including civil protection and medical emergency forces were deployed, with the collaboration of the Armed Forces and the Spanish, European (Europol) and international police (Interpol).
Only an extra 1.5 million people. It was estimated that up to an extra 1.5 million tourists and religious pilgrims from all over the world would converge on Portugal from August 1st to August 6th causing road closures and numerous restrictions including some public transportation routes, throughout the greater Lisbon area which made us wonder how all those folks were going to maneuver through some of those crowded, narrow Lisbon streets. And we wondered, what if you lived along the planned routes? How would you get around? Although the Portuguese government assured their citizens that everything was under control, we were skeptical.
Some of our Lisbon city friends vacated their apartments and headed to other parts of the country for the week to avoid the chaos. Others decided to tough it out and limit their daily excursions like we did. Since we don’t live right in the city, Paul and I decided to stay close to home and not drive anywhere for fear of getting caught in a detour, traffic, or road closure. Although most of the youth were housed in Catholic churches, schools, dormitories, and host homes, everywhere you looked, there were groups of kids wearing their signature t-shirts.
Moving away from a sordid past. An important component of the celebration, albeit one that no one should be proud of was the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. According to Reuters, three large billboards raising awareness of clerical sexual abuse were put up in Lisbon hours before the Pope’s arrival. One was removed.
The Pope did meet with 13 abuse victims at the Vatican embassy in Lisbon which lasted over an hour.
A visit to Cascais. On Thursday, August 3rd, the Pope was scheduled to appear at WYD events in Estoril and Cascais (our neck of the woods) traveling in a motorcade accompanied by government and religious dignitaries. We knew this was coming because we watched the staging go up in Estoril in front of the Casino.
People lined the streets of the road to try to get a glimpse of the Pope. We could have walked down to Avenida Marginal from our apartment (the main road from Belem to Cascais), to watch the motorcade, but decided to stay put and instead watch some of it on television. I think some folks may have been disappointed because due to the Pope’s declining health, there was no “Pope Mobile” used in this particular motorcade (although in other motorcades during his visit he was sitting in an open vehicle). Instead, he was a passenger in a white SUV. So, depending on which side of the street you were on, you either saw him wave, or you didn’t.
It was an historic event for Portugal and the faithful. Not something Paul or I needed to participate in, but it was nice to see so many young people enjoying one another and celebrating their faith. Perhaps a little more of that is needed in the crazy world we live in.
If you want to read more of the Pope’s visit from a “boots-on-the-ground” perspective, check out our friends, Mike and Mary’s post.
Mini-post 2: Saying Goodbye to the First Man I ever loved.
On Thursday, July 27th, I lost the first man I ever loved – my own papa. He passed peacefully in his sleep and in his own bed at the assisted living community he had lived in for the last two years. We knew it was coming – even though he kept his sense of humor, his heart and lungs were getting weaker, and he was tired. This once strong and vibrant guy was living a compromised quality of life. His Parkinson’s-like symptoms were finally taking over the man who was my first love, my first hero, and the one I always looked up to.
Knowing that time was getting short, in May, Paul and I made another trip to the United States. We visited Paul’s family and some of our friends in the New England area, and then spent ten days in Florida, visiting my dad and my family. We had some good quality time together and a couple of big family gatherings which dad loved. Dad was a family man, and he was with all his kids which made him happy. I think both Dad and I knew that it would be the last time we would see each other and leaving him to return to Lisbon was extremely difficult for me.
When you live far away. When you live far away from your family and many of your lifelong friends, it can be hard when something like losing a parent happens. You may have feelings of guilt or worry that your loved ones will think you’re selfish for not living close by. Before moving to Portugal, I struggled with this, and Paul and I seriously considered waiting to make our move to Portugal until our two elderly parents were gone. It’s not like we felt we were abandoning them because other siblings lived close by to our parents and took care of whatever they needed (Paul’s mom was in New Hampshire and passed away in May 2022, and my dad was in Florida).
But Paul and I weren’t getting any younger either, and we felt we needed to move to Portugal and not put it off indefinitely. After Paul unexpectedly lost his brother in 2019 to a massive heart attack at the age of 71, we realized that life can often take a quick turn in an instant. We wanted to spend the time we had left together experiencing our own journey in Portugal.
Even if you live close by, you can’t always be there. As it turned out, my father passed away on his own, alone, and in his sleep. None of his children – even the ones who lived ten minutes away from dad were there. So, even if you live close by, you can’t always be there when the moment comes. I think that’s how dad wanted it and somehow that made me feel that I was living where I was meant to be at this time in my life.
One last goodbye. In the early morning hours of Thursday, July 27th – soon I think, after my dad passed – I heard him calling my name and it woke me up from a sound sleep. He told me that he was sorry that we hadn’t had a chance for one more phone call (I always called him on a Sunday saying “Bom dia, Daddy” with a story about our adventures in Portugal), but that he wanted me to know that he loved me. We said one last goodbye. He was at peace. And so was I.
I made this short video to honor my dad.
Muito obrigada (many thanks) to Wordsmithlynn for supporting Our Portugal Journey through Buy Me a Coffee. Your generosity and interest help to keep this publication free to subscribers.
Until next time…