Before I let my mother take the reins, I’d just like to say that I hounded her to do this, and she finally obliged. She wants to be crazy rich and famous, so naturally that means she’ll get her start on Y Mucho Más. You may not realize this, but I’m, like, totally famous. (NOT.)
Here’s Donna. (You may also wish to read this entry, because she’s great.)
Funny how it seems like just yesterday we drove to Chicago to take Kaley to O’Hare airport for her first international flight. She was studying abroad in Toledo, Spain, for the spring semester of her junior year in college. She was so excited. I was jealous but happy for her. I loved the thought of going to Europe and living and studying in another culture. My friends and fellow parents often comment on how it seems that just one generation made the difference in the popular trend of traveling abroad. When I was growing up, it was rare for anyone unmarried or below the age of thirty (old enough to pay for an expensive trip on their own) to study abroad or even travel to another country.
As we said our goodbyes, Kaley never looked back. Her dad and I (especially her dad) had a few tears. I knew I was going to miss my daughter and she too would miss us. She was ready to go and experience the world. I was ready too, because I hoped she would learn to appreciate home.
Kaley made friends quickly, but in some of her early phone calls, she expressed her feelings of loneliness. Once we made definite plans for her father and I to travel to Spain during her “spring break,” she had something to look forward to and quickly acclimated herself to Spanish living. Our Skype discussions were filled with tales of travel and late night escapades. She told us that Spaniards ate dinner late and stayed out late. We found out it was definitely true on our first visit to Spain.
We flew to Spain during Holy Week (the week before Easter). We had the best tour guide, one named Kaley. I bragged that she was so good at Spanish and I insisted she was fluent. She adamantly argued with me that she was not, but two years when later we went back to Spain … she agreed with me that she was indeed fluent in Spanish.
In the late spring of her senior year of college, Kaley accepted an internship with a mission-based group in Salamanca, Spain. She was ready to return to Spain and live for the entire year. In early September we again drove her to Chicago with a one-way flight to Spain. She had insisted she wasn’t coming home for Christmas, as it was too expensive. By the time December rolled around, she had changed her mind and booked a ticket to be with her family during the holidays. We didn’t object too much.
In late September during one of our Skype visits, Kaley informed me that she “accidentally” flirted with a guy. She stated, “I don’t know what to do about it.” She wasn’t supposed to be dating anyone during the internship, per the rules of her workplace. I thought she sounded genuinely concerned that she broke the rules. However, she later was rather pleased that she had broken the rule. In a few short weeks she called to say she was dating this awesome, cute Spanish guy. She was swooning over the phone. As I am a mom, I quickly warned her that dating someone from another country could become very complicated. I think she reverted back to being a teenager at that moment. She exclaimed, ”Oh Mom, that is silly, it is just the same as dating someone in the US.” My response was to quietly say a prayer, as I had always done as I watched her grow up. I asked God to bless whatever was in His will and please don’t break my little girl’s heart. God must have had Mario in His plan because two years later he’s stuck around.
Still here, two years later.
Kaley has spent about two years off and on in Spain. There have been ups and downs. She has been homesick, she has spent more time in the Madrid airport than anyone should have to, and she’s learned to live without the things she loves here in the States. She has been taken into and loved by a wonderful Spanish man and his family. She has learned to cook delicious Spanish food. She has traveled to many places in Europe and learned to appreciate the wonderful history and culture of Spain and the rest of Europe.
This culture includes cheese. Lots of cheese.
As I contemplate the future, I know that Kaley is in good hands. She loves her Spanish family and cannot say enough good things about them. I feel good when I know Kaley has “parents” in Spain. Jesús and Pepita worry about her when I’m not there to do it [Kaley: and cook for me too!]. When she is not in Spain, she misses them like she would miss her family if she were away from them. I want to thank Kaley for bringing Mario into our family. It wouldn’t be the same without him. We feel like we have gained a son as well as a new country.
(Sorry so blurry.)
L-R: Mario, Jesús (Mario’s dad), Randy (my dad), Pepita (Mario’s mom), Carol (my grandma), Donna (my mom), Richard (my grandpa), me