Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Great-Grandmother

So a little family drama today.  Actually, it started in the middle of the night last night. 

The Monarch of family had a heart attack. 

I´ve resisted getting truly personal on this blog for obvious reasons but I am compelled to tell you about this woman. 

She´s 83 years old but has more Sass now than I can muster at my feisty 30 years.  She married her love who was already married at the time.  Divorce was big NO NO then and they ran away.  He was an amazing piano player. His piano is on display in a museum their home town. 

They had 6 children, 4 daughters and 2 sons.  The third was born on the floor in their apartment.  It was during a war in Brazil and they lived in a small town. The maternity hospital was being used as bunkers for the soldiers so her and her maid were waiting for the midwife to show up.  Very unBrazilian of the baby, it couldn´t wait and the Grandmother gave birth into the hands of her maid.

Well, the maid freaked the hell out, and who can blame her. So, according to the Grandmother, she passed the afterbirth and got up to make the other kids their bottles.  In her words, 'They were crying and were hungry and the maid (I forgot her name) was just staying there in hysterics.'  The story goes that she took the newborn and started to boil the water. The maid finally calmed down enough to hold the new one so that she could finish the bottle process and pop them into the mouths of the other two. 

That is a wonderful picture of who this woman is. I bet she was berating the maid about not holding it together. 

Her husband died during the military dictatorship.  It seems that he was getting some hell in his job because he was sensitive to the other side. He had a heart attack.

She continued her job, raised their children, and took in other children and raised them.  Hello Super Star!

Her house was like a ship. She went to work, the kids were expected to do what they needed to do. My Mother-in-Law was the master of the child army.  Chores, homework, and housework had to be done by the time the Grandmother walked in the door from work. Not to mention dinner on the table. She pre-planned the menus and the older ones had to cook it.

Did I mention that the kids, now adults, of this family are AMAZING cooks! 

Some more fun facts.  At around 76 years old she broke her arm and had to have a cast put on. She tired of it after about 2 weeks and sawed it off with a kitchen knife.  She never got another cast and she has yet to complain about any after effects. 

She´s had a boyfriend for 20 years and refuses to marry him. She´s already had a husband.

She flies to her favorite festivals and to visit family alone. She was on her way home yesterday from visiting friends and attending a festival in Belém. 

She is constantly invited to visit people, begged even. Come and stay with us!  She is loved by everyone. 

Do not call this woman during the soap operas. She will hang up on you. 

She is the only honest to God direct person I have yet to meet in Rio de Janeiro. You always know where you stand with her. 

She is touchy feely. I`m a closet touchy feely person but I need permission from the person to be that way.  I met her, not speaking a word of the language, and she put her hand around my waist and didn´t let go.  I regularly come up behind her and drape on her like I´ve known her my entire life.

She reminds me of my Grandmother who died when I was 13. 

She is the kind of woman they don´t make anymore.  She can be hard and knows tough love.  At the same time, she is as soft as dolce de leite.  She makes a home just by being there.  She doesn´t expect anything of children except for them to be children. That includes occasional breaking of nice things, all by accident of course. 

And she laughs. She´s a picture of laughter for life, especially when it´s inappropriate.  

As for her condition, she is doing well. She is in the ICU and will be for a couple of days at the very least.  They have to wait for her to stabilize so that they can test how weak her heart is now.

And her hair and nails still look fabulous!


  1. Although, my great grandmother just died at 97 two months ago. My grandmother is 80 e mesmo coisa de sua vovo ( my computer doesn't have accents). Just like you said, they don't make this kind of woman in Brazil anymore. Tough love, really independent, hard worker--all that jazz. I have to say out of all my family she has been the most understanding of me adapting to Brazil. Hopefully she will recover smoothly. She sounds so interesting!

  2. She is amazing. I get you with the understanding adaptation. She once complimented me on how I´ve blended into her family. That I come in as one of hers. It´s an easy thing to do.

  3. Thinking about your family... She sounds like such a headstrong lady that she'll make the right decision for herself.
    Thanks for sharing x

  4. Thank you for sharing. She sounds truly very special. How wonderful to be so wanted, loved and respected. Wishing you all well.

  5. I love her... and I love that she loves you so much. She has made us feel so welcome in her home when we come... special... always makes a lunch when we come to visit and one of her amazing cakes and is just as feisty as my mom. They would have liked each other. I will continue thinking about her... and the family who love her so much.

  6. My grandmother is easily one of the most important people in this world to me, so I know I would be in panic mode if she had a panic attack!

    I'm glad to here she's doing well now, and so sorry you had to go through that!

  7. Wishing you all the best, especially your lovely great-grandmother. Thanks for telling us about her. Good luck. Stick close to family.

  8. Thanks for all the well wishes! I´ll be sure to let you know how she´s doing.

  9. At the end she is brazilian, and as you know...brazilians never give up!!!


  10. Oh, so glad to hear she's doing okay now. Thanks for telling us about this beautiful woman! What a gem you have to have her in your life.

  11. Sending good thoughts your way, and abracos for all of you.

  12. A beautiful post written about a beautiful woman. What an inspiration. A role model that sets the bar way above and beyond. Thinking of you and your family...

  13. Thanks everyone! The little news we have is that she didn´t, in fact, have a heart attack. But they did the dye exam (forget the name) and did see that her heart is pretty damaged. We have to wait and see. She´s still pretty feisty but is tired. They said she needs to rest and keep things mellow