Our Final "S" Word - Saudade

Often, it seems that Fall marks passings.  Not just the leaves die, so do people. 

Many of the family member deaths I've grieved have been in the Fall.  Recently, my Godfather passed away.  My Uncle was larger than life, indomitable...we thought. He fought health battles and always won... for 15 years! 

But a battle that long wearies.

On a sunny, glorious, Fall day we buried him.  As the Monsignors prayed over his casket, my feet sunk a little into the soft cemetery earth and I closed my eyes and bowed my head.

Suddenly, in my mind's eye, his face was before me and he was whole again. Smiling. Healthy. I could imagine exactly where he'd be standing if he was watching his funeral, under the tree before us. So I opened my eyes and smiled toward that spot.  I wanted him to know that I knew he was there.  In the movies, no one sees or acknowledges the spirit watching their own funeral.  Silly...maybe.

This magnanimous man was the spark that lit the warm flame of some of my dearest memories.  He laughed and teased and gave and gave and enchanted his nieces, nephews and even in time their spouses with stories and gifts and tremendous occasions.  I felt so lucky that he was my godfather. That special connection belonged to me alone.

Knowing that his days here were coming to an end, our extended family wrote him letters to say the things that we might not be able to choke out in person, in the emotion of the moment. I wrote....

"It was about 30 years ago that you sent me a St. Valentine note to my college address.  I remember it distinctly.  You called it a “Simpatico” letter, suggesting that we share letters of coorespondence to each other with “S” words.  As always, you made me feel special and loved. 

Just the other day, as if to remind me,  I came across the most beautiful word and it connected with you…and the letter, S. During a time when I have been thinking about how much I love you and don’t want to lose you, I read about the word,  Saudade.

It’s a Portuguese word, with no English equivalent, that means…the love that remains.  Both a sad and happy word,  happy because I am grateful for having had so many loving memories of you. 

When I was little, I remember a sleep over at at your home and a day of bowling with you. I remember that you brought all the laughs with you on Thanksgiving, the room exploded with fun in your presence.  You were a reason for part of the joy on Christmas Eve’s, Sunday dinners out at restaurants with GrandDad, then as a teen,  you gave me my first work experience at your business.

So many memories, so much love.

There were River House weekends, that are uniquely responsible for the closeness I have with my siblings.  Having those times together solidified our family unit.  They came at formative years. 
Your arranging my summer internship at the radio station brought me the love of my life, my husband.  And now… your witness to all the struggles you’ve braved…these all comprise that word, Saudade, for me.  Your acts of love remain in my heart and the hearts of all who love you.  In your generosity, in your love, you have given us ALL a treasury of LOVE. 

IT WILL ALWAYS REMAIN.  Saudade, it is your legacy.

I love you so very much, dearest Uncle and Godfather. You are always in my prayers.  Thank you for loving me and your family. For your example, your generosity, your determination and constant love, I am truly grateful and blessed.  May you feel the Lord’s nearness, love and blessings.  It is His love you model to us.

God bless you!"

With Saudade, YOUR love that remains, I pray to recommit to being the 
parent, wife, godmother and aunt that God intends me to be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.

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