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  • Joanna Madloch

Sandra Silva



My paternal grandmother, Ester Silva, passed away last Saturday: March 10th, 2018. She was 99-years old and her funeral was held on my birthday. I called her vovo, which is “grandma” in Portuguese. She came to the U.S. from Portugal when she was in her 50s.


My father was one of her three children and she had six grandchildren.

Vovo was a fiercely independent woman and did not want her freedom limited in any way. This is why she married when she was in her late 30s, which was very late for that generation. Unfortunately, when she finally picked a husband, it turned out that he was an alcoholic who never took any of his responsibilities seriously. He was an electrician and was good at what he did, but because of his addiction was never able to finish any job he started. Because of this, vovo had to step in and she often completed his work for him.


Ester’s existence was hard, but she was strong and healthy. During her long life she never got sick. After my grandfather died, for many years she lived independently and never asked anyone for any help. She had very positive attitude toward life and an amazing sense of humor. Maybe this was the secret of her health and longevity. She was always active and enjoyed doing things. In particular, she loved sewing.


Vovo always made her own clothes and she was really good at it. I think that if she had been given such a chance in life she would have made a wonderful fashion designer. After her passing, my cousins and I went through her wardrobe and I found many absolutely fantastic things which fit me perfectly. It’s unbelievable that one can find such treasures in a grandmother’s closet.


I visited vovo in the hospital two days before her passing. When I entered her room, initially I was not sure if she recognized me. However, when I leaned over her, she immediately hugged me in “our” special way and tickled me. She knew it was me. Later, together with my cousins, I watched a video which was recorded fifteen years ago. In this video vovo hugs me in the precisely same way.

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© 2020 Joanna Madloch.