I’ve been coming to Portugal since I was 8 months old.
I spent a month here with my parents and family every other summer-
going to my grandparents’ farm, picking potatoes and onions
from the ground, hauling them (or trying) into my grandfathers pickup truck.
I woke up to my grandmother who, every morning
bought me a basket of the freshest, ripest and yummiest peaches
I have ever had.
I would run eagerly to the back to the chicken coup
and look for eggs that my grandmother hadn’t yet taken
because she knew how happy it made me
to run back to her with a handful of eggs and my happiness made her day.
I would take all the new born bunnies, cradle them,
wrap them in whatever I was wearing and would run
to the rooftop deck and stay there with them.
She would eventually find me and laugh.
As the years passed, I began appreciating those small insignificant
moments all the more and Portugal, a country my parents called home
slowly became my second home.
Today, things are very different.
I came back here, after three years for a family trip I have
been planning for the past two years and I am so happy to be back.
I spent a week in the Algarve and am now in Porto to be with my grandmother.
My grandmother is older and her mind, with age,
is inevitably changed. I sat next to her yesterday and watched
as her mind drifted from remembering to questioning.
As I sat next to her in the home she now lives in under full care and watch,
her mind drifted to things that were not real.
I wanted to remind her of things that were real and true- The amazing things
she had done, all the things I remembered and loved about her
and my summers here in Portugal.
I reminded her about the peaches she bought me every morning,
about the bunnies and chickens and how we prayed the rosary
after dinner every night;
she remembered it all.
The happiness I felt and feel still is what I came here for.
To be connected to the people I love the most.
Her remembering, reminded me how I too,
even though many miles away,
was still a part of her and I wanted her to know that she
is still very much a part of me too.
On a trip to Portugal more than 5 years ago I had taught her
to say “I love you” at lunch one day.
I sat next to her and pretended to feed
her with an airplane motion – she would just laugh.
Yesterday, not knowing if she remembered, I said in Portuguese before I left,
“Avo, I’m going to teach you something, say, ‘I love you’ (in English)” and to that
she responded, “I love you (in English), I remember that”
Yes, this post is so emotionally charged
and I didn’t plan it this way
but this is how things go.
That moment, and ones like it
are the moments that matter to me,
that shape me,
that make me happy and
make me the woman I am.
I am so blessed and so happy to be able to be with my family
and to be able to tell them, that I love them.
Today, tell someone you love, that you love them and why.
I’m off to the beach now and then to explore the city!