This is probably one of the most meaningful pictures to me and one I didn’t take. I could not have, I am that small being with my eyes closed. Barely 4, I must have been impatient to go play outside.
You may wonder what is so special about this picture. For starters it is one of only two original copies but most important it is the only picture of the six of us together at our home. You would think we would have more, after all we grew up together! But somehow people never managed to catch us all at once in the same place. Just this once taken by the boyfriend, later the husband of my eldest sister. She is the one who has the other copy and I had to beg and be very emotional about my imminent moving to beautiful Kenya at that time, for her to offer it. You see my sister Gina is the self appointed guardian of almost all our family albums and she takes the role very seriously.
It is funny how pictures can tell you a lot about the people portrayed if you look very carefully. And I can see a bit of the future in the eyes of our younger selves.
Starting with the back row on the left, you have my sister Luisa. Her wandering look already indicates her adventurous nature and all the places she dreams of exploring. And she did all that. She has travelled more than any of us and lived abroad for most of her life. We never know where she is at any given point. We lose track of all her trips and we often get confused by her schedules. She lives in Africa but it feels she is hardly there. She can be pursuing her spiritual enlightenment while cruising some ocean, or increasing her natural healing knowledge and abilities in the States or travelling alone by car to some neighboring African country just to visit some friends or go on safari. If a trip is involved you can call her anytime and she will be there.
Next is my eldest sister Gina. It is hard to be the first born. Everyone looks up to you and expects a lot. It is hopeless, you are supposed to always behave and be a good example to others. Also to take care of them and assume your responsibilities when the family needs you. Her composed look shows us she did all that but I wished she had had more of a say on the path she took. In spite of everything that has happened in her life, you have to admire her strength and her incredible stamina. A typical day can be Aqua Gym at 7 in the morning, then work, then Zumba at 9 in the evening. Followed by cooking and housework. Bed is many times an afterthought. I don’t know how she does it!
Sitting beside her is my brother Zé. You can see he has a very reserved somewhat melancholic look. He was an intellectual and he could have been a writer or a philosopher. He became a lawyer instead. As his picture predicted, he is secretive, the one who often makes disappearing acts and then grace us with his presence when you least expect it. But he was my rock when I was growing up. He, more than anyone, took responsibility for my education, helping me with homework and giving me books to read. I blame him 100% for my book addiction.
Then in the front row is my brother Joao. I was a late unexpected gift for my parents so when I was born he not only lost the throne but also the title of baby of the family. He was not happy. He did everything in his power to irritate me and we spent the first few years fighting. His face shows a bit of mischief and determination. He misbehaved a lot and did dangerous things sometimes. We made peace long ago and became really close. Last year when he had a health scare my heart was hurting with his. He has the kindest nature and will try to cheer you up even if he is not ok. He is the person I have confided in most and his good advice has helped me in countless occasions.
Finally what to say about my sister Mena. I think it shows she was always good-humored. She also had this special relationship with the sun. A few rays of sun and she would be the first to get a chair and enjoy its warmth. At the same time she was also very sensitive and we used to make fun of her for crying during every sad movie. But above anything else, she is also the most adaptable person you will ever know. She is like a chameleon blending into the circumstances and the environment. When she married a Scott and moved to Scotland we feared the worst. Little sun, harsh climate and different culture. It was difficult but her chameleon abilities didn’t let her down. If you heard her speak and saw how she behaves you would think she is Scottish but our Mena is still very much alive. Her sense of humor and laughter is still there, her generous nature, her faithfulness to her values and her determination. Ah yes and her love for the sun.
As for me, I am a traveller at heart, a free spirit but at the same time very committed to my family. If you have followed my journey you know much more. The path and the sharing will continue …
We all have families now and children to whom we are committed and love. My daughter is still very young but it has been wonderful to see my nephews and nieces grow up and see what they have achieved. We may not see each other often as we are a bit spread around this world but I am very proud of everyone. They are all amazing and I see their parents and me in them.
This picture means a lot but if you are wondering how many we have taken since then, the answer is two! I know, we are hopeless. But we have the perfect excuse, three of us live abroad and three are still in Portugal. Now it is even more difficult to find us all at the same time in the same place. Once we converged for my brother Joao’s wedding and another for my mother’s 80th birthday. I wonder when will we all meet again …