My grandmother (Vovó or Vó in Portuguese) just turned 98 this month and memories of Brazil are tugging at my heart. I wasn’t able to go this year to celebrate with her and everyone else who flew in from all corners of the world to see her. So I’ve decided to celebrate her 98 years of life this month by incorporating more of what I love about Brazil into my life each day to honor our shared love for Brazil and in gratitude for the life my Vovó has lived.
You see, in the late 1940’s my pregnant Vó came over by boat from Rio de Janeiro to New York City with my mom who was just 6 months old in support of my grandfather who wanted to move to the United States. She lived on West 63rd Street and worked in the Fashion District as a seamstress in efforts to help support her family.
At the time she spoke her native language Portuguese, plus French and Spanish fluently but very little English so she attended night school to learn. Vó worked alongside a Russian woman named Rose who had survived Auschwitz and also spoke very little English. Despite the language barrier the two women hit it off and became great friends. Vovó worked hard while she was living in the States and dreamt of the day she could move back to Brazil. 17 years later her dream became a reality, Vovó moved back to Brazil with her family where she vowed to never get on a plane again. In part she simply didn’t want to ever leave the country she loved so dearly. For my Vó, spending the rest of her life in Brazil was her dream. She always speaks highly of the years she lived in New York City but her place is in Brazil.
Fast forward to today, I her granddaughter happily jump on a plane to explore the world and capture what delights me at every chance I get. It is a privilege and an honor for me to be a photographer and capture the lives of my clients and people I encounter along the way.
I am an extension of my Vó and all of my ancestors. Every accomplishment I make in my own life, big or small, is in deepest gratitude to those who came before me and paved the way so to speak. Every dream I realize is in deepest gratitude to God for the seed, to myself for putting forth the effort and then to my family, my ancestors, my clients, my friends and my community for their love and support.
I recently wrote about Brazil on social media, here is what I wrote: Brazil for me means love, laughter, dance, joy, big smiles, a great appreciation for nature and being surrounded by warm and inviting family, friends and neighbors. It means enjoying life in the present moment. Each day I remember this, I bring a little more of my Brazil into everyday living. In deepest gratitude to all who have shared this way of life with me.
Cheers to taking steps towards the realization of our dreams and celebrating life along the way!
Here is an image of my Vovó(here she was 96), me and my Great Uncle (Tio Virgilio) from my grandfathers side.