Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jumping off a cliff in a green and red bikini.....

Hello Maria ---  It's been a few months since you've "gone"..  

I can't believe you are actually... gone.

It is too surreal for me to comprehend.  I wasn't able to sleep last night, and the visions starting coming to my head.  There you were, smiling, and laughing in pink and white, running up a path flanked with dark green ferns and beautiful exotic flowers.  Suddenly you came to the cliff at the water fall, and there you were in a green and red bikini--your very fair skin, and chubbiness all out for the world to see.  But you know what?  You didn't care.  You were smiling your smile, and loving ever second of it.  I could have sworn you said to me, "Julie, who cares!  I'm happy!  I don't even know how to swim!"

And there you went..  There went Maria, flying up in the air, performing a very impressive back flip somersault!

I then closed my eyes, and had a restful sleep, knowing you were happy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How Joe met Ana

This is the story how my parents met.  I'm not sure if I've written about it before, but I think it's worth writing about again.  It's July, and it's my parent's birthday and anniversary month.  Although my father is no longer with us, today is his birthday, and I feel inclined to write about how he met my mother.  Did I ever mention that all my siblings were born in the months of March and April?  Well, 3 of us were born in April alone---approximately 9 months from the month of July.  Yes, July was a "hot" month apparently for more reasons than one.

 My paternal grandparents,  Joao (John) & Rosa, emigrated from the island of Terceira, Azores.  They were married in Taunton, Massachusetts, and moved to California to start a new life and raised their family.  My uncle John, my dad, Joe, and my two aunts, Cecilia & Edalina (Addie) were born and raised in Winton, California.  In those days, it was very rare that you ever came back after leaving your homeland.  You came to America to start a new life, and you never looked back.  In the early 1950's, during the Korean War, my father enlisted in the US Army.  I don't know all the specifics, but I do remember him saying that he rode his Indian motorcycle down to the base in Monterey, California.  He was stationed there for some time, and it was the first time he had ever seen the ocean.

My father was to see many other places in the world during this time.  Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France, to name only a few.  But there was one destination that was quite unexpected.  My father suddenly became ill, and he had to have his tonsils removed.  Instead of going on duty to Korea as originally planned, he found himself stationed on the United States Air base in Lajes, Terceira, Azores.

What were the odds?  My grandparents were astonished.  They could not believe that their son was actually stationed in the Azores, on the island of their birth.  They naturally were very excited.  Upon learning that my father was stationed there, my grandmother made sure that he do the right thing, and visit his relatives on the island.  There were so many to visit.  There were uncles and aunts on his father's side to visit in Fontinhas, and his mother had family in Agualva and Vila Nova.  Like a good son, my dad made the pilgrimage to visit each and every one.

These visits led him to my mother's door.

I know what you must be thinking.  Was my mother was related to my dad, you ask?  No, not really; let me explain.  My mother's father, Francisco Luis Borges de Melo, better known as, "Chico Roico" a very well known writer/carnival extraordinaire (they named a street after him, if you don't believe me) died when my mother was only 9 months old.  My grandmother, Maria Adelaide remarried years later, to the only grandfather I ever knew, Jose Machado de Gloria.  He happened to be my grandfather's best friend, and a cousin of my paternal grandmother.

So, my mother who was only 15 at the time, was minding her own business, when there was a knock on the door.  Back then there were no phones, only word of mouth that a handsome American soldier was in town visiting relatives.  My mother had no idea that she was serving a cup of vinho cheiro to her future husband.  My father apparently could not take his eyes off my mom.  Word of his admiration broke loose, and there was one occasion where my maternal grandmother overheard that her daughter was going to be married to him while sitting on a bus.

Back then you really didn't need phones.

After my father's visit, letters suddenly appeared.  Letters from my father.  My father was apparently very much the romantic.  The letters did not cease.  Unfortunately, the letters were all written in English, but that did not stop my dad.  My mother would bring them over to her cousin's house.  Her cousin, Fatima's husband Carlos, worked at the base, and could read them, and then he would translate them  to her.  My mother thought the letters were quite humorous, but never responded.  Years passed, and the letters did not cease.  My paternal grandmother heard of the letters, and wrote one of her own to my mom in Portuguese, pleading to my mother to correspond back to her son, saying that her son really did like her a lot.  My mom really didn't know what to make of it all.

Then, years later, there was my dad again at my mom's door.  My father was very persistent.  He asked my mother if he could "court" her for awhile while he was stationed there again on the island.  My mom could not say "no" to the handsome solider with the green eyes at her door.

My parents were wed a year later in Vila Nova, Terceira on July 10, 1955.