When we moved to Spain in 2001, I never imagined how my life would be affected, how my life would be changed by the people and the places I had a chance to meet. In particular, I think of Jorge’ Nunez Segura and his wife Janet Webster and the love and openness they showed my husband, children and myself.
We moved to Spain for my husband’s job. Less than 6 months prior, he had quit his job, of 11 years, to go into private software consulting. I don’t know the exact date, but I remember standing in my office when he phoned and asked if I would be interested in moving, with the family, to Spain. He said it would be for only a short time, maybe 7 months. It did not take me but a moment to say yes. The children were young; our son had just turned 5 and our daughter would be three in just a couple of months. Our thought was, ‘What a perfect time to travel when we don’t have to worry about pulling them from school.’
It was my job to work on the home details, finding someone to stay in our home, letting our son’s pre-school know we were leaving, research the area where we would be living, make arrangements with our banks, get our Wills and Power of Attorneys in order and many other minute details. (All of those details for another time. It is time to get to our life, to Jorge’)
We arrived in Spain on Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001. It was also our 12th wedding anniversary, and what a present to arrive in this beautiful city, this Gothic City, this metropolitan city. I had researched, prior to our arrival, and had picked out the church that we would attend. It was/is an Anglican Church. As there were/are no Methodist churches, I felt it so very appropriate for us to attend the church in which our founder, John Wesley, was a member.
On April 22nd, we all were up and ready to go to church. The name of the church is St. George’s Church. It was appropriate for us as Saint George is the Patron Saint of Catalunya. St. George was regarded as a dragon slayer. Our family, being in a foreign land, not speaking the language, felt that we needed the protection of a St. George-type figure. Enter Jorge’ Nunez Segura – George to all of his English-speaking friends. George welcomed us to the church and was very drawn to our very blonde, blue-eyed children.
We were welcomed by everyone to the congregation. After the service, we had many people come up to speak with the ‘American family’. The church was a multi-country church. It is said that they have had up to 45 countries represented in their congregation on any given Sunday.
Our introduction of George came through his wife, Janet. But it did not take long for George and my husband to start up a conversation. George is just a couple of years younger than my parents so while we were there, he and Janet were parental figures to us and grandparents to our children.
Both George and Janet invited our family out for Sunday dinner after church within a few weeks of our moving there. We soon found out that George was a famous painter in Spain. We knew he was an artist as we could see him making pencil drawings during church service. But we did not know until we visited his studio and we spent the afternoon, into the evening, talking about his paintings. It did not make a difference to us. We loved George no matter what. (If you have a church you attend, you may very well have a print of George’s there. He is known for his religious paintings in the U.S.A. When we moved home, we found 2 in our church).
We also found out that George and Janet are great with children, even though they never had any of their own. They love our children like they were their own. George is such a comedian. We have learned over the years that his material may not be new but it is always funny when it comes from George. Some of his best comedy is when he tries to speak with an American accent. He loves American westerns and sadly, thought that America was like the gangster movies of the 40’s and 50’s. We have since convinced him otherwise.
Our stay in Spain was longer than 7 months but less than a year. What I came away with was a feeling that I am actually a Spaniard in an American’s body. I do love my country though. We did have a chance to remain in Spain but decided to leave and raise our children as Americans, not Ex-Pats. It is a decision that I will never regret. Being in Spain on 9/11 taught me that I truly love my country. But it does not lessen my love for Spain and the family that we ‘made’ while we were there.
George (and Janet) became a part of our family. When we get back to Spain every couple of years, we always make sure that we save time to eat dinner and go to the studio to talk about paintings, life and philosophy with George. We wouldn’t miss it for the world. We are truly blessed to call George and Janet our family by choice. Our love for them will never end.