My strongest memories of my grandfather is him sitting in the shadow with a staff, after a family lunch, swearing and threatening the kids who ran around like crazy, disturbing his nap. He wasn’t too furious when it come o his own blood, but the other kids already knew they would be in trouble if the staff hit in their legs or their ears would burn with what my Grandad could come up with about their blushing mothers.
Education, one must argue, has come a long way. It did. I am a father now, I will be a grandfather one day and for sure I won’t sit in a corner in the shadow with a stick, shouting at bystanders. Before you think my Grandad was a brute, some context as always. My father’s family comes from the NorthEast of Portugal, right there in the left upper corner in our map. It’s a region that was plagued by hunger, cold, Spanish civil war refugees, mining exploration. It was a hard place, cut from the other cities in the litoral which were prospering and thus reaching a different place. People like my grandfather were cast in stone for these conditions and we can now throw at them all our anthropological scope and disregard the attitudes and measures they had to take back then in order for their families to survive. However, to be absolutely blunt, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their resistance and our first world problems and ambitions mean nothing when compared to what our relatives, two or three generations ago have been through.
The other memory I have from my Grandfather was him crying out loud my Grandmother’s name, while he watched from the apartment the Government gave him (they had to leave their typical two storey houses, everything was going under “hygenisation”), the funeral parade carrying my Grandma’s body to the graveyard, on the morning after the wake. By doctor’s orders and in my opinion also because our big family didn’t want to deal with his pain, they left my poor and broken-hearted Grandad at home with a caretaker, unable to say goodbye to his laid wife, who brought him 11 kids (two died, nine survived including my Dad) and a love story so hardly lived we can only dare to imagine.
He died right after. Many old couples, when one of the spouses die, the other follows suit. I believe emptiness can kill. It’s not a new thing and it’s quite common that old couples either die at once, or if one of them goes, the other follows soon. I don’t know if there’s a medical logic or a scientific explanation to be applied here, but I always thought this was like a last proof of love, the absolute culmination of companionship, a wish so strong that leads to death and venturing into the unknown in hope we find our departed ones. Love never dies.
Even tough I lived around 600 kms from my Grandfather’s land, we visited in the Summer. My father’s family took a great liking on me simply because I resembled their patriarch. And I did, and took advantage of it many times to get the biggest steak on the meal, not to be shout at, etc. When I grow up I noticed that there was a blood tie pride that families used to have in gone times. Now we try to be cool, nonchalant, modern. Even tough my Summer visits were not enough to establish the bound I felt like establishing with our first in line, I got a lot of stories from my Father and if I share two or three of them, I believe you will know more where my lyrics and interests come from.
I believe tradition can be a spectacular thing. I have been often pointed down by using technology and Internet to come up with my researches and history and to this point I don’t give a damn people think that. A lie repeated many times can turn into a truth except for the object or subject of that lying.
My father had a hardline childhood. We all know our parents tend to exaggerate and that you might take their stories with a pinch of salt but some of it it’s true and verifiable if you are curious enough. I know I am. And if you try and separate fantasy from hardship, yes it’s true that the generations of our fathers here in Portugal starved, were victims to child-labor, and who cares if they exaggerate when they say a sardine was for 12, or that they were always bare-footed in the snow. It’s their revolt adding to a true story of harder, way harder times. They should rest though: I think this generation did a lot for us and for our country and they have been through stuff we can only dare to imagine. Political repression, hungers, strikes, wars, so it’s always with care and respect I approach these issues.
For example: it’s true that my parents didn’t want me to join a band. They made it difficult for me most of the times, but other times they had moments they would ease the pressure. Also it was very important for them for us to be “someone”. To study, to work, to find a stability they could would dream of back then with their multitude of brothers and sisters. And in perhaps a crooked way I did become “someone” and now I am able to knowingly envision something else for my son. My Granda and Father’s early calls to collect resin for pine trees, or late returns from the mines after picking up minerals (iron, gold,tungstene, etc.) have truly kickstarted all I call mine now.
And then there’s the folklore from the Northeast of Portugal from where I stole so much. My Father told me that many times when they returned from mining, witches gathered at the fields by the bonfire, trying to harm and mislead working men. The only way to avoid them was to pull down our pants and show them your penis. They couldn’t look back or harm you said my Grandfather. Or the stories of man/animals, unlike werewolves, men who were disturbed and that at night went out in the fields to mess with the watering systems, to destroy plantations, to raise the exact kind of evil that disturbed communities and that affected food, marriages, crops, so to speak the central elements of any village in the first half of the twentieth century in Portugal. These man mutated into sheep according to the tradition, scary.
I have a lot to thank to the elders. Especially to my Grandfather Wolf.He was not a Viking, a warrior, a writer, a musicians. He was just himself, a man from his epoch. I believe the resemblance remains still but as I get old and grey myself, a understanding of his dignity, his hardship, his reasons to do this or that is coming along and I believe the first step to be a man is to understand the man who made you be.
Nuno Ribeiro was his name. And I didn’t attend his funeral because I was playing a show.
#family #fernandomoon #wolf #grandfathers #wisedom #respect.