My grandpa was an incredible character. He was funny, always playing around with people, very respected and had lots of friends. On the other hand, he was very bold, though and did not tolerate lack of respect in any ways, at all. Arguing with him?! Huumm… I don’t think so, in he’s mind, he was always right. It was very dificult to deal with his personality sometimes.
Once, my grandma left us in he’s care to go shopping and out of curiosity, I always wanted to see how he used to cut off a chicken’s head, so I insisted that he showed it to us. The rest of that afternoon was crazy as you can imagine, after my grandma arrived home and almost had an heart attack.
When we had tonsils infection, he used to take us to a healer. We had two ways to deal with that, the first one the healer would use a spoon and carefully squeeze the tonsils against the neck lump, until he noticed an significant reduction, and it had to be done by someone experienced. The second way was by using their own hands to do a strong massage in the affected area, my grandparents used to it. Before the treatment, they spread harm palm oil around our throat and at the end we drank a little water-fiery to help with the pain. It worked as an anesthetic, and after 2 or 3 days, the tonsils would came out by itself.
I confess that the procedure was frightening, and there was not one time that we had not cried, but it worked. I know you’re may thinking, there wasn’t a best way to do it? Like going to hospital or something? That looks pretty violent for a child to go through! At that time we didn’t had medical access so easily and only had one hospital for the whole island, so yeah! We couldn’t rely only on that and it was not as bad as it sounds.
Grandpa João (John), invented the “Acuca” that was like a bogeyman. Every morning he used to mask himself on an all yellow costume and go get who used to make pee in bed. He used to take one at a time, would put us inside his black bag and carry us to a little house in the forest where he would left us alone until the end of the day.
We scratch walls, looking for a way out with so much fear of he’s voice and scary things he used to say, so after my turn I never dared to pee in bed again. I was so terrified that I used to woke up in the middle of the night even without the urge to pee to go to the bathroom.
My brother and my cousin still went a few times, but eventually they ended up being able to stop. Whenever I saw them being taken away, I would cried in despair and begg my grandmother to protect them. She calmly laughed and said, “They’ll be fine.” Only a long time later they told us that it was grandpa John behind the mask, that it was just a joke. What a stupid joke! I thought to myself.
Today, even the boogeyman I miss and I would give everything to re-live everything again.
I also remember the bad times when he used to come home drunk, destroy everything he saw in front of him. My grandma only asked us to go to the bedroom and cover our ears, but of course we could still heard the whole discussion. Instead of being quiet as she asked, we would yell at him and ask him to stop. He would come all dizzy, bumping into everything around him toward us to attack us, but our grandma never allowed.
Unfortunately my grandpa ended up dying of alcohol abuse. On that day he looked fine for me, was in the living room, lying on the sofa when he asked me for a glass of water. I went to fetch him one and when I got back he had his eyes closed. I thought he had fallen asleep and tried to wake him up, by calling him and pulling on his clothes, but he did not respond. Already crying and shaking i went running, calling my grandma that was in the kitchen cooking lunch. She immediately left everything that she was doing and went to see what was going on with him.
It was the last time I saw my dear grandpa. He died around the age of 45, so young, and with so much to live. It was a big loss for all of us, but I like to think that he is in a better place, resting in peace. I also know that wherever he is, he is looking after us and guiding us in every step we take until we meet again.
“In memory of my dear grandfather João Cruz”