I Learned Today That My Grandmother Loved Mini-Skirts!!

This will probably be my last entry prior to my departure to the United States next week.

I Learned Today That My Grandmother Loved Mini-Skirts!!

Today I met with Dona Maninha. This was one of the most important conversations I have had in my life. I went through obstacles courses and scavenger hunts to find her residence but I found her through about 9 people. You see, Dona Maninha was very good friends with my paternal grandmother, whom I never met because she passed on when my father was young. Currently, I am the same age my grandmother was when she passed away. The circumstances of her life and death were too painful so my father has had a hard time discussing her with me. I know very little about her life beyond that she was gorgeous (from the pictures I have of her) and that all loved her. Last week, I decided that I would learn about this woman whose name I share and who has marked my father’s life. My grandma was the godmother to Dona Maninha’s daughter. They were very good friends. My objective was to create memories of my grandmother that, instead of pain and death, included happy moments and real day-to-day situations she lived. So I went on a quest to learn about her life through her friends. What I have learned thus far: she would have been in her late 70s (and if we know anything about CV women, that is pretty young). She was friendly, soft spoken, very pretty and sophisticated, wouldn’t hurt a fly, trusting, laughed and smiled a lot, worked at the cafeteria of a local soccer team, her and my dad were VERY close since they only had each other, she spoiled him and treated him like a little king and he did the same with her even as a young boy, she supplemented her income by crocheting and doing other needle-work which helped put my dad through school. She loved music, dancing, and mini-skirts.

Allowing Life Transitions To Take Place

I have visited home every couple of years or so since my family decided to immigrate to the United States 20 years ago. From all of my visits to Cape Verde, this was probably the most significant one. Of course, the time I met my husband in 2005 was extremely important but as a Cape Verdean woman this was by far the most enlightening experience. I say this because I have been on a quest to find my cultural identity and my place within my family’s history. In this quest to define myself, I met several people by chance, some of them “regular” people (i.e. Dona Maninha, 80 year-old-mother of 9, and my grandmother), and others, famous painters (Tchale Figueira), singers (Cesaria Evora), and writers (Germano Almeida). All these people have helped me somewhat place myself in this world and my role as a Cape Verdean woman, professional, wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, etc but not in this same order but all equally important. My trips to CV have now transitioned from me as a young woman who comes home to party at night and hit the beaches during the day to me as an adult woman who can still do all that but lives a purposeful life which includes family and the pursuit of cultural identity through history so that the present and the future can make more sense. Each day, I feel like I know my purpose in this world a bit more. I don’t claim to know it all but conversing with all these people who are full of wisdom has opened my eyes to the past, the present, and how to tackle the future. Until my next post….


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