We said goodbye to the area south of the river and moved into this apartment mid-July, 2006 (and we will be moving out at the end of October). It's a cute little 2-bedroom, 2-bath with a great layout in a fabulous location here along the line of Cascais. We are a 9-minute walk from the train station and a 15-minute walk from the beach:-). In our complex there is a small garden and at the far side of this green space is a tiny mall (called a commercial center here in Portugal) which houses all the services you would need: supermarket, dry cleaner, photocopy shop, newspaper stand, - well you get the picture). Yes, this is a great little apartment.
There are 10 apartments in our building. And while there is no social scene (remember Melrose Place?), all of the inhabitants smile and say hello. One of the people living on the 4th floor is a distant relative of Luis - isn't it indeed a small world? The other apartment on the 4th floor belongs to the son of the older couple living on the ground floor. The lady living below us is elderly and has needed live-in assistance since we have moved in. She laments no longer being able to leave the apartment and the refers to the plants she keeps in the common hallway as her garden. She's very dear. There's a young couple with grade school children as well. Our building is quiet, but bustling with life behind each door.
You can imagine my surprise when on a Sunday evening a few weeks ago an ambulance took away one of my neighbors. From my window I couldn't see what what happening below very well as it was dark. But I could see that a woman was being taken to the hospital. My first thought was that something had happened to the woman in the apartment directly below me.
A couple of days later I found out that it wasn't the frail lady on the 1st floor, but a woman about my own age on the ground floor. This particular woman (whose name I don't even know) was the heart of the building. She had a French Bulldog named Pierre (who is so ugly that he is cute!) that she walked several times a day. She was the person in the building that always had just the right answer and was always there when you needed her. For example, Luís and I were trying to refill the windshield wiper fluid and couldn't tell which receptacle was which and she happened by and set us straight. Just like that! How did she know that?
Her death has hit me like a ton of bricks. No hospital stay, no lingering illness, no big fuss - a call for the ambulance on a quiet evening early in September and it was all over in a matter of minutes.
Goodbye. You will be missed more than you know, and by people that you didn't really know you touched.
Hope we meet again. . .