A special summer evening

In summer everything is different, special, spicier…but Friday summer evenings are even more so, the promise of a sunny weekend to come.

Last Friday I was really looking forward to getting out of the city and arriving at our quiet seaside village, sitting down on a terrace and relax while sipping a drink and looking at the sun setting over the sea.

I got home from work and hastily packed up the rest of my things – I was half-packed already – and got into the car. I was happy to find there was practically no traffic – after all this was the end of July and many people were already on holiday and away from Lisbon – and I listened to the music on the radio and relaxed, enjoying the drive.

The first glimpse of the sea when we arrive is always powerful – a feeling of peace invades you and you feel happy, privileged to have a place in this small corner of heaven where you can disconnect from the hectic schedule and all the daily obligations.

Finally I get home and I put things in the fridge – having a weekend and holiday home means you always carry some things from one place to another! Nuno is already there and soon we are riding his motorbike on the 3 minute ride to the terrace restaurant where we are meeting our friends and his sons and daughters-in-law.

When we get there we are immediately aware of the lively atmosphere – there is live music and soon we settle down with a glass of champagne rosé they are offering tonight as some sort of promotion. We are in a merry mood and when Nuno’s younger son Zé and his girlfriend Ana arrive – the last of our group to do so – we are all singing along and clapping and enjoying the moment.

This is a happy moment – not only because we are together, friends and family, in this summer evening filled with music and laughter; but also because of the promise of new lives to come. Nuno will soon become a grandfather – twice, from both sons, and having new babies in the family is always a reason for joy – a double one in this case. As for me, I am delighted that I can play the grandmother before my time, as for some time now I miss having a baby in my lap, and certainly not because of any late motherhood instinct…

Nuno, being the great father he is, is looking forward to having his grandchildren in his lap too – the first one we already know will be a girl; the second, we don’t know yet but whatever it is it will certainly be most welcome and loved. At first, serious-minded as he is, he was a bit stressed – as far as his elder son is concerned because the baby will be living far away, in London, and he won’t be able to see it as much as he would have liked; as to his younger son, he was worried because it was quite unexpected. Zé has now begun a new job and is still in its first stages – but now Nuno has finally relaxed and the joy of this new experience has dawned on him and I can see his eyes brighten up when we talk about the babies and make plans. Actually, at the table, among all the singing, there was a lot of talk about babies, pregnancies, deliveries, baby equipment, possible names and always that amazing feeling that life is renewing itself – the promise of continuity of life, and the bright hope for the future that every child brings along. In Portugal there is an old saying: “a child always brings a loaf of bread under its arm”, meaning that every child is a joy and a celebration of life.

The singer went on singing for a long time, nonstop; he sang well but most of all he was very friendly and fun; he invited us to join in and everybody at the restaurant sang together both international and Portuguese “oldies”, such as “No woman no cry” by Bob Marley or “Playback” by Carlos Paião. But he sang many others, very popular songs whose lyrics we all knew by heart and so the evening went by and I felt – we felt – truly happy.

What a memorable evening. An evening of great expectations: of those two babies on the way, but also of our summer holidays, just around the corner. When we have the promise of long, lazy summer days when we can relax and do exactly as we please, and enjoy the beach and the sun while reading an interesting book…but this evening was made even more special because Nuno and I could not help thinking – even if I like to live in the present and rarely plan too much ahead – of other, future summers, when we will bring the children, first as babies, then as toddlers, along with us, and once again relive those wonderful moments when a trusting, innocent child takes your hand and with its wondering eyes asks you a question or begs for a story.

And a story they will have. I am already planning on telling them the most beautiful fairytale stories of my own childhood and my children’s, and any new ones that may have appeared in the meantime. Because a child is like a new page in life, a new story, a new love. And so much more.

Yes, last Friday was a very, very special summer evening. With a promise of many more to come. And with the added joy of knowing that, soon, there will be two new babies in the family. And, by the way, I think “Granny Teresa” sounds very nice.