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  • Writer's pictureM. Virginia Southworth

Happy Birthday Mary!

My sister Mary and brother-in-law Ahmet met me at the airport in Istanbul. The airport is vast and it is all new. It was 33 years ago since I have last visited Turkey. It is very different now. One can see the influence of the Western culture infiltrated here.

I was both thrilled and relieved to see my family here. I was of course exhausted too.

When my sister showed me where she was on the map I thought that it was about fifteen miles from the airport. I did not realize that the photograph that she sent me was on her GPS indicating where she was at a precise time on the journey that would otherwise take over three hours. Thus, we stayed in Vadistanbul which is the main commercial hub of the city. This is where Ahmet's sister Asuman lives. We would stay with her this night.

It still took nearly an hour to get to Asuman's apartment which is in a luxurious high rise building. It is a very secure gated community. I was very excited to see Asuman. The last time I saw her, she was raising her teenage son. She lived in a meager dwelling. Hers and her husband's sacrifice paid off as they worked hard to give their son Levent a good education. Today, Levent is a successful businessman.

My brother-in-law and me

Asuman greeted us at the door with big smiles and hugs and joyous laughter. Her housekeeper Eileen also welcomed us most warmly. A beautiful chicken dinner with fresh salad and homemade yogurt was set on the table for us.

I had asked Ahmet if I might take a shower to freshen up. I had taken a shower just before leaving, but one gets warm waiting in the long TSA lines. It felt good to put on a fresh dress after a hot shower.

I was thinking how I was fascinated by the toilets when I was here the first time. They had a hole in the floor surrounded by ceramic with a place to put your feet. There was no toilet. Rather, a squatting posture was employed. The family laughed how I took pictures of this 33 years ago. Now, there was a regular toilet with a bidet attached.

Eileen and Asuman

We sat down to that delicious dinner. Then we adjourned to the living room, or "parlor" as my grandmother used to say. Eileen made some chai. The Turkish are great tea drinkers. They have a unique way of brewing their tea. Then, it is served in tempered glasses.

We were waiting for Asuman's son Levent to arrive. He works very hard. He is a professor with a doctorate's degree in addition to having his own business. He works long and late hours.

Eileen came in the sitting room with Asuman with a cake all aglow! They began singing 'Happy Birthday' to my sister Mary. Mary was so surprised. Evidently she was admiring this particular cake in the bakery previously. This cake was incredible! It had fresh blackberried and fresh bananas in a custard filling. It was a light vanilla cake with white chocolate frosting. The presentation alone was out of this world. On top of that, it tasted as good as it looked. It was subtle sweet which is just the way I like it.

Just then, Levent arrived. It was a wondrous reunion. That tall thin boy that I remembered had grown into a very handsome young man. He is very thoughtful and generous. He presented my sister with a pretty package in a little gift bag. It was a gorgeous diamond pendant in white gold. Mary was flabbergasted. Asuman assisted her in putting it around her neck.

We visited and reminisced. Levent speaks English very well.

Levent and me

We retired as the next day, we would be going to Erdek which is an island on the Sea of Marmara.

To be continued....

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