Today I guess I’ll go over and beyond with the NaBloPoMo and post twice!
But the subject that I want to write today, has to be today.
November 13th. That’s the date of my great-aunt Lygia’s birthday.
She’s not among us anymore for quite a while now (18 years???), but she’s someone the entire family always remembers fondly. Including myself.
Today she would be 102 years, had she lasted that long, and to honor her I posted in facebook a photo collage of me with her, in years long gone. Then I started receiving several comments from different people on the family. She never had kids of her own, but she loved them and treated all of her nieces and nephews and their kids like her own. To me, she always felt much more like a grandma than my own grandma.
My mom is the oldest of many nieces and nephews and says tia Lygia was the one who taught her everything she knows now. Including kindness and how to go over and beyond to help people who needs help.
One of my mom’s cousins remembers her as a very charismatic, good and energetic person, who marked the lives of everyone who crossed her path.
She was certainly one of the strongest personalities I have ever met (and believe me, I’ve met lots of strong personalities, so that’s saying a LOT). On her house, there were always rules, but we still felt free to do as we wish, on a way. She made sure to always make everyone comfortable at her home. And we did feel comfortable there.
She liked to have parties, and sometimes important people were present due to my grand-uncle’s job. The kids and the young would have a room for their own, and leave the grown-ups chatting at the main living room. When my mom and her cousins were young they used to have their own party on the ‘cousins room’. One of my uncles is a joker, always making people laugh. At one of the parties at tia Lygia’s the cousins were laughing so hard, that some ambassador decided to check on them and decided he wanted to be amongst the young instead. ;o)
I remember the menus on her parties very well. There were always sweet buns with ham and cheese, potato chips and ice cream. Probably other stuff too, that would occasionally change. But those were the staples.
In the day-to-day visits, that were not parties, I remember she would always offer soda (Coke or guaraná Antarctica) on little glass bottles, and the savory crackers from Piraque. My favorite was Presuntinho (‘little ham’, although if you look at the ingredient list there is actually no ham at all on it). I loved it (and her) so much that, as a child, every time I’d be angry at mom and dad, I would say that I’d run away to tia Lygia’s place. I don’t really think life would be that much easier there (much more rules…) but I would have certainly had consumed much more guarana and presuntinho than I had at home (thank god I didn’t go, that stuff is junk…)
Another funny story of her is from when I was 15 and was dating a boy whose dad was born in Ukraine (Soviet Union at that time). She was all excited about that information and at some point when I was on a different room (the cousin’s room?) she turns to my older sister and tells:
“Listen, she’s dating this guy from a Russian family, so you go and tell him that he needs to teach her Russian. Russian is a very important language and she can’t miss this opportunity, ok?”
“But tia Lygia, I don’t think he speaks Russian at all. His dad maybe, but not him or his siblings…”
“Well, I don’t care. That’s his problem. He goes learn it first and then he teaches her. It’s very important that you girls learn different languages.”
The boy had indeed never learnt his dad’s native language and obviously never taught me anything of it either. Today I know a few words in Russian, but it was certainly not because of him of his dad’s origin…
Later, when I was in college studying English to become a translator, she would have me pick whatever books I wanted from her huge collection of English books. I grabbed lots. She had always been very supportive of learning new languages and cultures.
Anyways, I could go on forever writing little pieces of memories about her here, but I guess this post is already pretty long as it is. (also because I’m starting to feel sentimental… )
I just hope that whatever she may be now, she knows that the entire family is remembering her today with lots of love and saudades.
Editing the post just to add what my sister wrote about her:
“There are people who changes our lives by simply being themselves and letting us be close to them, watching how it’s possible to be strong and yet generous. I know exactly how she would smile today when I entered her apartment to wish her happy birthday. I know where I would sit, the sandwich she would serve me, the topics we would talk about. Our intertwined hands were so present on my life that I thought I would feel it forever. I close my eyes and I know you’re here. Inheritance of love that time won’t take away. Saudades, Lygia Novaes.”