Avô / Grandfather
4879 miles after…everything makes sense….
I found the last address of my grandfather!!!!
This is maybe the most important chapter of this trip to me.
I knew this is not the best moment to travel to South Africa, the lack of security and the 40% unemployment made me hesitate, but the meaning of being here was stronger than the fear of getting shot.
Why Johannesburg (the city of the gold)?… because that’s where the airport is closest to Venderbijlpark… the land where my grandfather is buried.
The only grandfather that I didn’t know! Father of my mother….Joaquim.
I know that he came with his brother António searching for a better work, like happens now with a lot of Portuguese….the history repeats …
He worked as a carpenter and participated in the construction of the Malawi stadium.
I know he played guitar and was a bit like me
I know he bought a radio and offered it to his wife so that every time the radio plays she would remember him…..and that radio played again and again!…and still plays.
I know he died young with only 51 years old….
And I also know there are some things that I don’t know yet….
After searching the name and the dates of births and deaths, with the help of an “angel”….the day was arriving!!!!
…I went there (taken by another angel, with his name meaning helping the others) in a symbolic day like the day of the friendship.
It was like a movie…..one hour in the road to the unknown…but I had a strong reason pushing me.
It was my first road trip by car on a South African motorway, surrounded by flat and fertile land.
…we passed mountains formed by the earth extracted from gold mines (the same done by the rich man Joe Berardo) and we also passed Mandela’s homeland, Soweto
….then we started to see the indication of Venderbijlpark (was also the land where Paulo lived, a great friend of mine).
We were almost there!!! I took pictures of everything….I was anxious!! The GPS took us to a beautiful cemetery.
I went to the services and explained the case….the lady became thrilled to know I have come so far and gave me all the files she had.
In the archives, like a good portuguese, I took all that I have….only a blurred picture of the grave that I found that had been forgotten in a drawer for 44 years….
It was a huge cemetery! I saw some portuguese names, I searched without stop the shape of the stone in the photo….I found the first, but it was white.
Two minutes after I saw a black stone with the same shape……
I was fast….maybe I found it!!!! I turned and….JOAQUIM….was the grave! I confirmed the dates but I already knew that was him…I looked like an iman. It was unbelievable.
44 years after I was in a place that I thought only existed in my imagination….there I was in front of one of the people responsible for my existence.
Yes South Africa! It was worth it!!! The joy of finding that place was amazing.
Everyone was vibrant….and thank you whatsapp for making it possible to send a photo so important across the world in a matter of seconds.
My grandfather stayed there surrounded by Portuguese that also chose this land to live. Being portugues this is our way! For better or for worse.
By coincidence I arrived one day before his birthday…see you grandfather!
Now I’ve finally found you…