And Grace, my fears relieved;“Amazing Grace”, Att. John Newton
Because I have this driving urge to see where all of my loved ones live, work, walk, talk, etc., Grace is the reason we have left hearth and home.
We have been with her in España. Of course, being with her makes everything easier and more fun as we are making the transition from French, to Portuguese (not so much), to Spanish.
We all speak Spanish but it’s different in Spain – faster than we can speak or even comprehend. Grace’s fluency level places her in classes at the Universidad de Sevilla rather than taking courses through the exchange program. Go Grace!
My granddaughter is an adventurous woman. At sixteen she went to Ecuador for a year of high school. She is accustomed to finding her way in a strange world and is confident in her abilities.* She is willing to go after what she wants.
In spite of that courage, it is comforting to us that she is in great hands. Her situation is good because she would make it work not matter what. And her situation is good because having made the decision to house with a family in order to enhance her experience in Spain, she was blessed with a great home.
Her “Mother”, Maria, lives in a typical Sevillan house of several stories built around a courtyard. It is made comfortable by art, remembrances of life, family photos, and many pictures of the Virgin. The father died several years ago, but family is a part of everyday life. One of Maria’s sons and one daughter are attorneys and have offices on the ground floor, which is commone here. The home has many bedrooms where children and grandchildren come to visit often.
Grace has a lovely little corner of her own that is a place to be separate while still an intregal part of the home.
She is a part of the family now. Her mother prepares breakfast, lunch between classes, and a late supper. Grandchildren often join them for their meals. It is always available but never mandatory if Grace has other plans so it is perfect for a college-age woman who enjoys the family atmosphere but also wants to travel on weekends and enjoy time with friends.
Grace shared how much she enjoys talks with her mother. During our visit we could see the affection between the two.
We lived life around town with Grace in little bits and pieces while we were there. We at at some of her favorite Tapas Bars where she chose the dishes she liked. And we introduced her to Carrillada de Cerdo en Salsa (a pigs cheeks in his own juice), which she loved.
There’s no doubt that we strained Grace’s schedule between classes, studying, family live and exercise. But she seemed to do it all.
She keeps up her running schedule. She completed the San Francisco Marathon with her Dad, Mike, shortly before leaving for Sevilla and is in Lisbon for a half-marathon soon. She had told us about running groups in Sevilla but even she was astounded one evening as we sat in small side street when a couple of roller bladers came roaring around the corner – followed by at least 30 more. They zipped around our table, some barely staying erect. It was fun seeing this little bit of life eccentric to her home town.
It was all great fun. Sevilla is a good city to visit. And everything looked more wonderful through her eyes. Thank you, Grace, for sharing your time and your city. We loved spotting you.
*Grace doesn’t seem bold. In conversation and situations she is considerate and seems compliant. She would give up her aisle seat or go along with others’ wishes when she feels it is important. But still, she is strong.
While we were in Sevilla, Grace had a long weekend from school and went to Ireland. A friend was joining her but she went a day early on her own, booked a hostel, and dived in. She came back with a story that typifies who she is. It gives me a little smile every time I think of it – “Oh, sweetie…”
She met a young woman who was wanting to move to Ireland and who had been there for some time but was still in the hostel. In conversation she indicated that Grace was the first person that she had really talked to.
“Oh, sweetie,” Grace relayed the conversation. “You need to put yourself out there. Talk to people. What do you have to lose?”**
**(These quotes are for the sake of the story and may not be exact.)