My Portuguese Grandparents

My Portuguese Grandparents

I'm very proud of my Portuguese grandparents.

May they be well, their souls at peace and be proud of their descendants who inhabit the blessed lands of Brazil and Portugal.

They left a legacy of honesty, work ethic, struggle, perseverance and especially wisdom.

They had a profound impact on my training. I grew up listening to their advice, stories and molded phrases from their life experiences.

** Above pictures of my grandparents. First Photo: My grandmother Maria, my grandfather José Antonio and the children Elvira and Manoel. Second photo: My grandfather José Antonio in the center and the brothers Augusto and Seraphim.

My paternal grandparents José Antonio and grandmother Maria

My grandmother passed away long before I was born, but her picture on the wall of my grandfather's wooden house, accompanies me today as if I had known her and lived with her all my life.

My grandfather brought from Portugal a taste for literature, culture and knowledge of the world.

In honor of him I was baptized and received her name. In order not to confuse us, they gave me the nickname “Zezinho”.

He was a military man in Portugal, but became a farmer in Brazil. He was respectful to his partners, sharecroppers, caretakers and neighbors.

He had something unusual in him, the love for Portugal and Figueiró dos Vinhos, a Portuguese parish in the district of Leiria in the province of Beira Litoral.

With my grandfather I learned about the land, how to cultivate, take care of animals, respect the weather and the climate, be patient to watch the land grow and be calm to walk.

In front of the house, on the farm where we lived, he maintained a vine supplying grapes throughout the year. The pruning of this vine was given to friends to plant on their land.

I think he was talking to her every day to kill the longing of Portuguese land and my grandmother Maria who left too soon.

His stories of Portugal were told at night, on the porch of the house, smoking straw cigarettes, looking at the starry sky of the Milky Way that gently bathed our farm with light.

I remember his slow walking along the farm's trails. A rite when thinking, relating to nature. On the other hand, I loved running around breaking records by taking something to the neighbors, on the one hand the Rodrigues, on the other the Morgados, and beyond the Silva.

The farm was located just 7 km from the city of Duartina-SP, from where we could watch the sun rise and set, follow the moon in its phases, the stupendous Milky Way in the winter months, meteor showers, abundant water rain bathing the crops, pastures and animals.

Learning from my grandfather

My grandfather was very educated, polite and kind.

I learned from him to be a farmer and a good reader. He was a fan of Eça de Queiroz. In addition to the personal books he had brought from Portugal, he subscribed to the small Selections magazine from Reader ’s Digest translated into Portuguese and the magazine Life, inserted monthly in a newspaper.

Sitting on the wooden floor of his house, I used to leaf through and read these magazines. One of the articles I liked the most was entitled “My Unforgettable Type” where the interviewees told stories of people who went through difficult situations and overcame them.

My sisters and I were born on the farm where my parents lived for many years. In addition to having lived with my grandfather, my vacation there were filled with the presence of my childhood friends, cousins, uncles, aunts, sharecroppers, home, visitors, neighbors and friends in the area.

Hunting, boules, horseback riding, swings on the cedar, football, fetching water from the mine, helping to clean the house, helping with the preparation of the June festivities and hard work were worth the learning.

The side of the grape vine had a huge cedar, with a swing made of steel cable, two hoses providing shade to our boules pitch and a tall coconut tree that attracts birds of all kinds.

In front of the house there was an immense lawn that could serve as a parking lot, a soccer field, riding animals or even running on a trail that led to the coffee pot, chased by the dogs that vibrated in these comings and goings.

My aunt Leonor, daughter who accompanied my grandfather until the end of life, witnessed everything, taking care of all of us with immense affection, cooking favorite dishes, pulling our ears when necessary, rejoicing us with their positive and charismatic attitudes.

** See photo above: My maternal grandparents and children. Sitting: My grandfather José Elias and my grandmother Leopoldina. Standing in the background, my uncles: Cândida, Lino and my mother Narcisa. Standing in front, my uncles: José, João, Félix, Wilson and Milton

My maternal grandparents José Elias and Leopoldina

My maternal grandparents came from the parish of Penhas Juntas, municipality of Vinhais, district of Bragança, province of Trás-os-Montes and Douro, northern Portugal, already on the border with Spain.

My grandfather José Elias was calm himself, peaceful and quiet.

Behind this calm was a strategist and a great entrepreneur. He had an emporium and a hotel. One business feeding the other, ideas I learned for the future.

The coolest thing is the fact that he paid me a lot of attention. After classes at school, I always stopped by the emporium to eat Portuguese cookies and sweets. At that time they came in large cans and were sold by the kilo. I helped him to serve customers, but only those he indicated when necessary.

Our best moment was when no clients came, when he liked to tell me the stories and exploits of when he lived in Portugal, talking about the wars in Europe, his going to France to work, meeting with my grandmother Leopoldina, who challenged her father to marry him, at the time a rare act.

He also told me about the lands there, their small houses, the few spaces to plant due to the stony soil, the harsh winter in the North and the difficult life they had..

I always considered him a romantic because I perceived in him a charm for life, for his children and especially for my grandmother Leopoldina, a short Portuguese woman with a strong personality and a winning spirit that he did not even risk contradicting.

She forced us to go to mass every Sunday in single file with my sisters and cousins. I never lost point with her, always obeying and following the rules.

When she appeared on the horizon walking towards the hotel, I watched her and was immensely proud, as she demonstrated that she was determined to arrive and solve any problems whatsoever.

On Sundays she waited for her children and grandchildren for lunch.

There we were at a large table, eating sardines, cod with potatoes, onions, peppers and tomatoes. And my grandfather to serve a good wine Portuguese carboy.

No one complained about the happiness of being Portuguese.