When I received an invitation to submit a piece of writing for a new anthology to honour, and reflect on, the role of grandparents’ in the lives and memories of their grandchildren, I immediately thought of a post I had written about my grandfather on this blog several years ago, Reading with My Grandfather on Sunday Afternoons.
I am grateful to the organizers of this project, Aida Baptista, Ilda Januário, and Manuela Marujo, for accepting my submission for inclusion in Avós: Raízes e Nós. I am very honoured to have my short reflection included in both English and Portuguese versions.
The anthology was published in record time. I received the invitation to submit sometime in April and by July, the book was published by Almaletra.
Given the reality of Covid-19, it was with concern and trepidation that Manuela Marujo and Ilda Januário planned a lançamento, a book launch. Taking all the necessary precautions, they went ahead. I think part of the urgency was to acknowledge the change that has taken place in the world since March 2020. Grandparents stopped seeing their grandchildren and isolation has become the new norm. In some way, the collection of stories and reflections about grandparents is a way to reconnect with those family members who are now apart because of the pandemic.
The room was lovingly set up for a limited number of guests, including the writers from Toronto who had contributed to the anthology. We each had our turn to say a few words. When my turn came, this is what I said in Portuguese:
Boa tarde. É um grande prazer estar aqui com todos vós para celebrar o lançamento da antologia Raízes.
Estamos aqui todos juntos apesar do distanciamento físico. Não podemos cumprimentar-nos com um abraço ou aperto de mão. Mas, através da nossa antologia podemos aproximar-nos através da leitura. Estou ansioso para regressar a casa para ler os meus amigos e colegas de escrita.
Estou feliz por ter a minha reflexão sobre o meu avô incluída nesta antologia.
Meu avô materno, Manuel Pereira Duarte, falecido em 1968, era serralheiro de profissão, na cidade de Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Açores, onde tinha a sua oficina.
A lembrança mais profunda que tenho dele é de estar sentado na cama com o meu avô aos domingos à tarde, lendo. O meu avô lia os seus livros e eu os meus.
Foi com ele que aprendi o amor à leitura. Por isso o meu trecho é de uma maneira especial uma homenagem à herança que ele me deixou.
Agradeço profundamente as professoras Manuela Marujo, Ilda Januário e a nossa ausente Aida Baptista pelo seu valioso trabalho e homenagem a todos que tem a honra do serem avós.
Good afternoon. It’s a great pleasure to be here with all of you to celebrate the launch of the anthology, Raízes.
We are gathered here despite physical distancing. We can’t greet each other with an embrace or a handshake, but through this anthology, we can come close together through reading it. I am eager to return home so that I can start to read my friends and colleagues.
I am thrilled to have my reflection about my grandfather included in the anthology.
Manuel Pereira Duarte, who died in 1968, was a blacksmith by profession, in the city of Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, where he had his shop.
My most profound memory of him is being in bed on Sunday afternoons, reading. He would read his books and I, mine.
It was with my grandfather that I learned to love reading. This is why my reflection piece is a way to honour him for the legacy which he left me.
My deep thanks to professors Manuela Marujo, Ilda Januário , and our absent Aida Baptisa (in Portugal), for your valuable work and homage to all those who have the honour of being grandparents.
My grandfather: Manuel Pereira Duarte (30 de Outubro, 1898 – 10 de Julho, 1968)
Photos of the launch on my Events page.