Once a year every year of Pai's childhood: Eurovision.

Once a year every year of Pai’s childhood: Eurovision.


Hank: (jumping) WE WON! WE WON! WE WON!

Pai: What a weekend.

Me: (counting on my fingers) The pope came to Fatima, Benfica (soccer club) won the national cup and Portugal finally won Eurovision.

Pai: (facetious) It is as if we are finally coming out of the shadow of Salazar.

Me: And we are the top European travel destination for 2017.

Hank: WE WON! (still jumping)

Pai: (sincerely impressed)This was my dream. I watched this show every year growing up and I have always wished someone would win this thing and then say exactly what he said. Just rip into the idea of this pimba (tacky) festival and make it more about music and talent and less carnival.

Me: He’s an iconoclast.

Hank: What is an iconoclast?

Me: Someone who marches right into the center of things and smashes a long held idea or belief. This word can be literal or figurative. The literal example of iconoclasm are the bands of marauding men in the middle east walking into museums and smashing cultural heritage and antiquities. Figuratively an iconoclast is Salvador.

Pai: When they handed him is trophy he gave a speech about how disposable music has become.

Me: Music of only fireworks and hooks but no soul or passion.

Pai: Salvador and his sister, Luisa, swept that contest with a simple, perfect song and then he took the time to stand up in front of the institution of Eurovision and express his wish for it to become more about the artist and less about a flashy Feira Popular spectacular (now closed flea market and carnival amusement park in Lisbon open 365 days a year).

Me: Salvador just won Eurovision, the epitome of cheesy pop music, the birthplace of ABBA and didn’t care. He didn’t care a wit.

Pai: He didn’t get dressed. Didn’t style his hair or shave. He didn’t participate in the projection mapping…

Me: Or have a choreographed dance break.

Pai: He was there to represent Portugal and sing his sister’s song, but not play the game. This was my dream. Finally someone participated that was just too good to ignore and he couldn’t care less about winning Eurovision since for him it was about the music and not the title.

Me: Iconoclast.

Pai: Salvador is an artist.

Me: The best ones are!

Pai: BUT brace yourself, the memes are coming.

Me: (snickers)

Pai: It is only a matter of time before there is a meme running around Portugal of A Nossa Senhora de Fatima shining her benevolent light over Salvador.

Me: And Benfica!

Pai: And Benfica, of course.


Gawd bless meme makers: Salvador Sobral as the face of Nossa Senhora de Fatima wearing a Benfica Jersey.

Gawd bless meme makers: Salvador Sobral as the face of Nossa Senhora de Fatima (Our Lady of Fatima) wearing a Benfica jersey.


O Meu Não é Teu! (It’s Mine Not Yours!)

Playing Librarian

Playing Librarian


(walking through the front door at the end of the day)

Pai: Hello!

Molly: Hel-lo!

Hank: They’re home!

Me: Hurrah!

Hank: I missed you, mana (sister).

Molly: Mano! Brincar nas escadas (play on the stairs)? Come on! Come on, Mano.

Hank: (looking to me asking if it is a good idea to “play” in the hallway with his eyebrows)

Me: Go on, a few minutes. She just wants to sit on our four steps. Don’t let her near the large staircase.

Hank: (jumping into action) I’m coming, Mana (sister).

Pai: Hello you. (coming over to the sofa where I have draped my weary bones)

Me: It’s you! My favorite person. How was your day?

Pai: Ordinary, buuuuuuuut Adriana’s (Molly’s Nanny) wasn’t.

Me: Spill.

Pai: Apparently, the girls got into an actual fist fight.

Me: Actual fisticuffs? Seriously?

Pai: Adriana said that she turned her back on them for one second while they were playing and when she looked back their little toddler hands were balled into fists and they were fighting over something.

Me: Over what?

Pai: She didn’t say.

Me: What did Adriana do?

Pai: She walked away. She let them have it out and then she scolded them with an appropriate amount of Portuguese guilt centered around love and loyalty.

Me: Well played.

Pai: She asked that we talk to her about it, too.

Me: Word.

Molly: (trotting inside, curls bouncing, happy as a clam)

Me: MaGoo?

Molly: Sim (yes)?

Me: Did you and Ariana (her colleague at her Nanny’s house) have a fight?

Molly: (puzzled)

Me: What made you angry today at Tia’s house? Faz zangado (made you mad)?

Hank: (sitting on the step leading down to our sunken living room)

Molly: (hands folded behind her back) uh, uh, uh, uh, uh… A MINHA! (It [was] MINE)

Me: Oh, I see. And Amália faz zangado (got mad) at Ariana.

Molly: Sim.

Me: And did you (dramatically make hands into fists and grimace face)?

Molly: (eyes wide) Sim. uh. uh. uh. uh. Ariana… A MINHA! (It [was] mine!)

Me: Amália Sofia, when we are mad we don’t hit. We don’t talk with our hands. We use words. We say our feelings we don’t act our feelings. Diz (say)…

Molly: (puzzled)

Me: (yell) O meu não é teu! (It’s mine not yours!)

Molly: (a bit shocked)

Me: And if your words are not enough you ask for help. You don’t use your fists (show her my fists). You use your words. You ask for help! From your Tia (nanny) or from me…

Pai: Or from me.

Hank: Or from me.

Me: You use your words not your hands. Okay?

Molly: Okay.

Me: No more. No more hitting. Não bate. Nunca. Não mais bater. Nada, ok? Nunca mais. Falar. Dizer… (Don’t hit. Never. No more hitting. Never, Okay? Never more. Speak. Say…)

Molly: Ah… ah… O meu não é teu! (it’s mine not yours!)

Pai: Boa (good)!

Me: We don’t hit in this family.

Hank: No, we don’t.

Me: Did you say you were sorry? Desculpa (sorry)?

Molly: (ashamed) Desculpa. Sim. Desculpa, Ariana. (Sorry. Yes. Sorry, Ariana)

Me: That is a good friend. Good friends say sorry when there is a mistake. Mistakes are how we learn. Okay? What did we learn today?

Hank: (shaking a finger at no one in particular) No more fighting! Use your words.

Molly: Tá bem! (Okay!) Mano, come on. Make a salad. Come on. Make a salad with me?

Hank: Sure, mana (sister).

Pai: (after they go into the kitchen to make the dinner salad together) Ten bucks says she comes home tomorrow with a black eye.

Me: Oh, for sure.


Fatima, Religion, The Pope and A Three Day Weekend

(from left to right) Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lúcia Santos who received the visions at Fatima.

(from left to right) Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lúcia Santos, the shepherding children who received the visions at Fatima one hundred years ago on May 13, 1917. Jacinta and Marto die of Influenza a few years after this photo was taken. Lúcia spends the rest of her life in a convent.


Me: Tea is on the table.

Pai: (from another room) Be right there.

Hank: Oh wait, I need papa to sign something.

Me: (inhaling tea steam)

Pai: Tea was a great idea. I am crashing I am so tired.

Hank: Papa, please sign this piece of paper for Friday. I can go to school because they will have prolongamento (after-school care) all day or you sign saying I will stay home.

Pai: You’re staying home.

Hank: I know.

Me: And Simão is coming over for the day.

Molly: (playing with her dollhouse, suddenly stops and gasps at the sound of her buddy’s name) Simão? Simão?!

Me: But let’s not mention it again or your sister will be devastated she won’t be here, too.

Hank: Oh, now I am excited!!

Pai: (signing the paper)

Me: What national holiday is this? I don’t remember a mid-May civil servant holiday.

Pai: The Pope is coming to Fatima.

Me: Excuse me?

Hank: The Pope you like, Papa Francisco, he’s coming to Fatima.

Me: And you have the day off school, why? Are you writing a report? Do you need to sit in front of the TV all day?

Pai: The government made a fuss and even the Bishop said it wasn’t necessary, but it’s elections so all government employees have the day off.

Hank: And teachers are government employees.

Me: Man, that means the library will be closed. Balls.

Pai: More time for you to watch the Pope visit Fatima.

Me: It’s nice that he is coming for the 100th anniversary of the visions.

Pai: It’s been 100 years?

Me: That is what all the posters all over town say.

Pai: Makes sense. It was the turn of the century. (handing the paper back to hank and tucking into his cup of tea) Oh, is this honey?

Me: Chestnut blossom honey from Penha for Hank’s allergies. Reminds me of barley honey. It’s not as sweet as blossom honey.

Hank: What is the Pope anyway? I know who he is, but like, what is his job? Is he like the king of the priests?

Me: I donno.

Pai: He’s gods messenger on earth.

Me: Is he now?

Hank: He’s like god’s mailman?

Me: Wouldn’t that be a resume builder.

Pai: He is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The next in a line of priests starting with São Pedro (Saint Peter) who Jesus gave the keys to the gates of heaven.

Hank: There are keys to heaven?

Me: Everything in organized religion is metaphorical.

Hank: Oh.

Me: And how do you know all of this, Alfredo?

Pai: What? Just because I am an unbaptized heathen doesn’t mean I wasn’t culturally indoctrinated. Why didn’t you know that? You grew up in Church.

Me: Loophole, I was baptized Lutheran. We’re diet Catholics. We have no pope and we don’t believe in saints like Catholics do. They are more stories of great men and women in history not someone you pray to for help or protection of a particular thing. (whispers) Lutherans take that as a false idol kind of thing. Jesus got real pissed about that once and ransacked a market place or something.

Pai: Ah, hence why you don’t have Jesus on the cross, either.

Me: Exactly and poor Jesus! Everyday having to relive the brutality of his execution again and again in iconography. (shudders)

Hank: Well, I am grateful for the Portuguese government, Jesus, A Nossa Senhora (The Virgin Mary) and the Fatima Kids and Papa Francisco because tomorrow is my last day of school before a three day weekend!(dancing in his chair and sipping his tea) I hope they have a great party and that people are happy. I am staying up late and then I’m staying in my pajamas alllll day. I hope papa Francisco doesn’t buy stale cakes because that is the only thing I know about Fatima.

Pai: Don’t remind me of that day! Do not. I am still upset about those cakes.

Me: I am sure Papa Francisco will be well taken care of and not cake-hustled in Fatima like we were. He is the messenger of god. I mean… sell him a stale cake and you may get smote.

Hank: Really?

Me: Metaphorically.