Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

I keep thinking about my Vavoo.

He was my hero and I loved that man with all of my heart. So much so that when he got sick I took care of him even though I had two small children at the time. Our family worked together and made sure he had around the clock care. My aunt and cousin taking the brunt of it.

He played this game with us where he threw change in the air and let us collect it from the living room. He had a chicken full of his rolled up bills and a squirrel full of quarters. He taught me how to make snowflakes from paper, turn a garden with a pitchfork, and how to tell when a tomato was ripe. He use to give me money and send me to the corner store to get his cigarettes with extra money for ice cream. He would sneak me cotton candy at the feast and buy me malassadas. He taught me how to make sublatha ( a red sauce for meats). He didn't beat me when I caused his sweetbread to fall, even though I am sure he wanted to, and he taught me how to make sheshpidos. He would hold me on his lap and sing me songs in Portuguese and he would always do my hair when I slept over. Most of all, he loved me, unconditionally. Without exception.
Even when I turned up pregnant at 17.
For those of you that know an old school Portuguese man, that is a big deal.
He was bigger than life to me. He was my Hero.

I was in mass yesterday and Msg Oliveria was talking about remembering those who fought for our freedoms and served our country. I thought of my Vavoo and how he fought in WWII.
Suddenly it occurred to me that he probably killed people.
My Vavoo...killed people.
I cant quite reconcile that in my head. He was the most gentle loving man to me. He did his job as a soldier. He was proud of his service. But, he may have had to kill people.
35 years it took me to realize that.
He remains my hero and that becomes just one more thing that makes me love him.
Not because he killed someone, but because he was still able to love after it. I am sure it changed him and in some ways broke him.
But that man was my Hero.
Nothing changes that