Q: Good morning. How old are you?
A: I’m 52 years old. Well, I am not 52 yet. I am 51, actually.
Q: Are you married? Do you have children?
A: I am married and I have got two children.
Q: How old are they?
A: My daughter is 32 and my son is 24 years old.
Q: Do they work or study?
A: My daughter works and my son works and studies at the same time.
Q: What is he studying?
A: My son is a multimedia communications designer and is doing an undergraduate degree in Lisbon.
Q: What about your daughter, where does she work?
A: My daughter is in Spain, she went to Spain in 2010. She is a nurse.
Q: Did she take her degree there?
A: No, she studied to be a nurse, here in Portugal, in the Institute Jean Piaget, in Macedo de Cavaleiros. She finished her studies in 2009. From September to December 2009 she delivered her curricula to several institutions, hoping to find a job. By the end of 2009 there hadn’t appeared any proposal of work yet. It had been a short time since she started looking, but at the end of 2009, at the invitation of a friend, they decided to go both looking for a job in Spain. This friend had other friends working in Spain, my daughter also had a friend who had already been working there for about 6 months and decided to embark on an adventure. She had never been on a plane and she wanted to take the opportunity to travel by plane. However, she did not expect to find work right away. However, two days after she left, she called me to say that she was coming to get her bags, because she was going to work there. But it did not go as well as she wanted. She came to get her bags, but by the time she got there, she hadn’t a workplace anymore.
Q: Really? What happened?
A: I do not know. I do not know if other people with more experience had taken the job instead. However, the boy who is now my daughter’s boyfriend, whom she did not know but was the friend of the boy with whom she went to Spain, began to help her and with his contacts he got her a job in a nursing home for the elderly, a luxury home. She worked there for a year. But it was far from Barcelona and her friends stayed in Barcelona. The place where she worked was 40 km far from Barcelona. She stayed away from the people she knew. The experience with the housing was also not very good. He went to live with a couple from Ecuador. The lady was a maid at the place where my daughter worked and rented her a room in her house. But things didn’t go very well, because their culture was very different. And she was very sad. She cried many times, she wanted to return home, not because of her work, but because of where she lived. However, a month passed, then another and another and things were unfolding. It was not quite what she had expected, because working in a Home for the elderly was never her dream. She was not applying the knowledge she had acquired in university. Meanwhile, the boyfriend arranged for her to work in the hospital where he worked and she has been working there for 7 years. At first she was hired for a year and now she has a permanent work contract.
Q: Is it a Central Hospital?
A: Yes, it is. It is the Hospital Quiron in Barcelona. It is a highly regarded hospital in Spain.
Q: For how long did you say she has she been in Spain?
A: She has been in Spain since January 2010, so 8 years.
Q: Do you remember the day she came to get her suitcases and went to Spain?
A: The first day she went to Spain, I was still in doubt. But when she picked up her bags and left, a piece of me went with her. Because she is a very dear and responsible daughter, and she was my company, because her father is also far away, she is the oldest and accompanied me for everything.
Q: Is your husband also emigrated?
A: Yes, he’s in Switzerland. And she was my confidant. She still is, but it’s not like she’s near me. That day I took her to the airport, I felt she was shaking. She is very strong, she does not cry, but I felt as I hugged her, she was shaking. I felt insecure. Not because I did not trust her, because I know she’s very responsible and that everything was going to be fine, but I felt shattered, because it is our daughter who was about to fly away and it was a huge pain. Now I’m used to it, but …
Q: At that time how did you contact her?
A: At that time it was by phone and Skype. We made calls through the computer, via Skype. We talked every day. Now things are much easier, by WhatsApp, etc. We never spend money because it is always through these new technologies that we communicate.
Q: You told me that the first times she was there were difficult, because of the adaptation that was not easy.
A: And the language! She could not speak Spanish. She could not speak Spanish or Catalan. She actually admitted that it was madness that crossed her mind. Because, at that time, here in Portugal hospitals and clinics contracted nurses, from time to time. Now they are more selective. She did not speak Spanish and worked with two Romanian nurses who asked her if she would mind if they spoke Romanian to each other and so much she knows some words in Romanian. What a coincidence!
Q: Yes, a funny coincidence!
A: So, working with two Romanians who spoke Romanian to each other, being away from her friends, it was a very difficult time for her. It was a very hard period of adaptation.
Q: How often does she come to Portugal?
A: In her first year in Spain, she left in January and came here 4 or 5 days in April. Then she just came back for Christmas. Now she comes more often. Sometimes she’s here in August for the whole month. Other times it is half the month of July and half of the month of August. At Christmas she comes a week or a week and a half. She is here for Christmas or for the New Year. It depends, because she has to work during one of these Holliday. But she is ok. Her life is now stable. She has been through different services inside the hospital. First by orthopedics, then internal medicine, oncology, and now she is in neurosurgery.
Q: What about you, have you ever been there with her?
A: Yes, I’ve been there a few times. On the second Christmas she spent in Barcelona, the whole family went there by plane. She was already living with her boyfriend and we went there to spend Christmas with them. After that I went alone some other times. One of those trips was a birthday present from my daughter.
Q: When you communicate by WhatsApp or by other means, what do you talk about? What do you share with each other?
A: We share our day. Sometimes I annoy her with things that happen to me or to her brother. More with her brother. She tells me how her day was, what she did, how things were at work. She does not like to talk about what happens at work. When she was in the oncology department, she talked more. Now she doesn’t like to talk about what happens to patients. She speaks of the relationship she has with her colleagues, when things do not go so well, she complains that nurses are few for all the work they have to do. It has been almost a year since she started doing night shifts and she feels more tired.
Q: What about your husband? He is in Switzerland. Does he communicate with her, too?
A: Yes, of course. They also talk to each other.
Q: And with her brother? Does she talk to him? How is their relationship?
A: They had a great relationship. They were flesh and bone. But my son also left home. After graduating he went to live in England for two years. On the one hand it was great for him, because he learned English very well and is now translating a book. On the other hand it was also a bad experience, because he went there with the expectation of getting a job, but he couldn’t get one. We parents had to help. He is an adventurer, yes, but he isn’t always successful.
Q: During all this time that your daughter has been away, did something serious happen to her or to you, something that worried one or the other?
A: Thank God she’s very healthy. She has only a few allergies, but nothing serious. Unfortunately, something happened to me in December 2016. At the end of December 2016 I did some routine exams and one of the blood tests revealed very high values. My gynecologist thought I should do a MRI of the skull, because she thought I would have a tumor or a cyst on the pituitary gland. I did the MRI to the skull and surprise of surprises, coincidence or not, my daughter was here and she was the one who received the results of the exam. She called me in the afternoon, she did not call me early, and she told me to make an appointment with a neurosurgeon for the next day, which would be a Saturday, or the following Monday, because she was already going back to Barcelona that same Monday.
I’m starting to get hoarse because I’m talking about this. However, I was not very worried because the doctor said that she could control the problem with medication. But my daughter insisted and told me that she would have dinner with her in-laws and that I should try to arrange the appointment urgently. I got a medical appointment for Saturday morning. Her in-laws are from Viseu and she came from Viseu to go with me to the medical appointment on Saturday at noon. When she arrived home, I started talking about another family affair and she said to me, «Mother, forget about it. Now we have to focus on your problem.» And I asked her, «But what on earth do I have?» And she told me that I had a tumor in the Meninx. It might not be anything serious, but we have to listen to the doctor’s opinion.
We went to the doctor, and he said that the tumor had to be removed because of my age, because I was 50 years old and it would cause a whirlwind of situations and it had to be removed. I asked him when and how the situation could be resolved. He told me that I could be operated at Sto. Antonio Hospital, a public hospital, but it could take a long time. He told me that he did not want to influence me to go to a private hospital, but that in a private hospital I would get assistance that I would not get in a public one. He also said that in my situation, it was not convenient for me to be in contact with many patients because of the viruses, the flu, and that I should be operated as soon as possible.
We went home, we talked, we cried, because we were both alone at home. I phoned my husband, but I told him it was nothing serious, but I think he realized it was serious, but that the problem had a solution. However, he said it was to be resolved as soon as possible.
Q: Were they with you during this surgery?
A: Yes, they were! My daughter asked to miss work for 10 days and her boyfriend and my husband were also with me while I was in the hospital. My daughter was always in the hospital with me, from the day I walked in until the day I left.
Q: Is your daughter’s boyfriend Portuguese or Spanish?
A: He is Portuguese.
Q: Are you hoping that they will one day return to Portugal or do you think they will stay in Spain?
A: I’m hoping they’ll come back. They are now with a new project here in Portugal. They bought a building, they and two other people. They formed a society and intend to open a residence for seniors in Coimbra, but it should take two more years to become a reality. So, I believe they will come back. However, as I told you before, working in a home for the elderly is not what my daughter really wants.
Q: She prefers to be in touch with the patients in a hospital.
A: Yes, but she will be committed to the project and then maybe look for work in a hospital.
Q: Isaura, your son is in Lisbon, your husband is in Switzerland, your daughter is in Barcelona. Do you have any relatives near you that help you when you need?
A: Yes, I do. I have my parents and my sister.
Q: What do they think about the fact that your daughter emigrated in Spain?
A: Their opinion is positive. They know she’s fine. She can come here on vacation, come here several times, they are happy because she is happy.
Q: Is there anything you wish very much to happen?
A: I want them to give me a grandchild! But one that could be close to me, not far away.
Q: Do you think your daughter is in the right profession for her?
A: Yes, I do. I think she’s a good professional, very humane, very correct, which is the most important.
Q: Thank you very much for your testimony and for your collaboration.
A: Thank you.