Goodbye, dear nan Leila
11 OCTOBER 22
When I heard my grandmother Leila wasn't doing well in hospital, I had a feeling I should go to Brazil and say goodbye. I arrived on Monday 05th Sept and she passed away on Friday the 09th. Seeing someone you love on a hospital bed, unconscious, it's sad, but it's a relief she is not suffering anymore. The hardest part was to tell my grandad the love of his life wasn't coming back. 😥
My grandmother was an extraordinary and impeccable writer; she wrote books and won many essay competitions (amongst many other things). She used to write for the local newspaper 'O Progresso de Tatuí' and support them over the years when they needed help with grammar/revision. They built a strong friendship (as she did with everyone around her).
The same newspaper got in touch with me when I was there asking if I could write a tribute to her. They said she used to tell them I am very good at writing (well, I only learnt from her!). What an honour for me, but I had no idea how difficult it is to write about my grandmother - the person with the most qualities that I can't even begin to describe! Anyway, I decided I didn't want to write anything sad. I just wanted to remember all the good memories, and there are plenty!
It was published on the following morning (same day as her funeral). She had to make the front page, of course, as my grandmother was a famous person in my home town due to her achievements and help in the Education Sector. I brought with me the paper version, but they also published here.
Here is the English version:
'Words in a piece of paper will never be enough to describe the uncountable qualities and the legacy that my grandmother left in the history of Tatuí.
She changed many lives due to her generosity, which was her main quality. She spread her charisma and sense of humor whenever she walked and carried the purest love inside her heart.
I have always been proud of being her granddaughter, not to mention the privilege to have inherited her name - I wish I had inherited her other characteristics. My grandmother, undoubtedly, was the most determined person I have ever met in my life. She was a warrior, a fighter, a fortress.
I heard so many times ‘your grandmother was my teacher!’ and the peculiar stories from former students only made me even prouder of being her granddaughter.
My grandmother has always been my great inspiration, the best example to be followed in any way. Impossible to forget the immeasurable love she had for our family, her intelligence, her determination, her kindness, her incredible ability to forgive, her impeccable writing, her non materialistic personality, her extraordinary strength having fought so many battles throughout her life.
She worked 'pro bono' and gave free lessons on countless occasions. In one way or another, she helped everyone around her. Everything she did, she did for love.
This is the Leila we must remember: her strength and her smile which spread so much joy amongst people.
I have to mention her unconditional love for my grandfather. The most beautiful thing was to watch them always holding hands, after almost 70 years of marriage, and the 'famous kiss’ when the family was gathered on Sundays' lunch or after a celebration.
If it’s true that people meet their loved ones after life, my grandmother will be the happiest person in the world if she meets her two beloved sons again, after such a painful and long-awaited journey.
Rest in peace, my dear nan.'
Some of many photos of the 'famous kiss' :
I took this picture when we were about to enter the Court building and my grandad was holding her cases/work for her.
They were ALWAYS holding hands, it was pure love. The most romantic couple ever! 🥰
My nan and I shared the same name, which means there was a lot of confusion going on when we were both lawyers in the same small town. My maiden name back then was 'Leila Maria Menezes da Silva' whereas her married name was 'Leila Salum Menezes da Silva'. For some reason, people wouldn't read the whole thing and I had a few clients wrongly sent to my office and vice-versa 😂
It was all very confusing because my nickname in my home town (Tatuí) is 'Leilinha' = 'little Leila'. The only 'Leila' they knew was my grandmother 😅
Everyone who knew my grandmother knows how difficult it was for her to adapt to new technology. She was so used to her old-fashioned way; always writing her petitions as a solicitor and everything else using her typewriter. It was beautiful to watch her patience and dedication with that machine! However, for a long time my dad tried to convince her that her machine was something from the past and she needed to learn how to use a computer. I was then nominated to help with that mission....which didn't last of course, but it was GREAT FUN 😂
This is the first text she typed and printed using a computer. She had a great sense of humour, and of course she had to take the mick out of me pretending she was filing a request in the Court. Here is the translation:
'YOUR EXCELLENCY DIRECTOR OF THE COURT OF THE CITY OF TATUI
LEILA SALUM MENEZES DA SILVA, retired teacher and lawyer of this County of Tatuí, requests from Your Excellency permission to complete my damn Computer Course.
That is because I had enough of my teacher's laughs; she mocks me every time (always) I make stupid mistakes'
....and this was the first email she sent, addressed to my dad Cassiano:
'(subject: my state of mind)
Cassiano, I am sending you my first email, thanks to Leilinha's persistence, who is testing my patience, as I have other things to do but waste my time using my beautiful fingers on this strange machine.
Your unhappy mother, LEILA SALUM!'
My nan Leila had just reached 90 not long before she passed. I always thought my grandad would go first; he is older and physically more fragile. 2 years ago, I had to go to Brazil in a rush for the same reason, but he was in hospital at that time. Since I've always been his favourite grandchild (which he never hid from anyone 😂) , it became a joke that he revived when he saw me. Yes, it did help, but the truth is: he got stronger because of her. He knew she needed him. She was the reason why he woke up every morning. They were inseparable.
When I went to see him on my last day in Brazil this time, even though he is struggling to talk at the moment, when I told him I love him very much, his reply was 'I love you too, and you are still my favourite'. We both ended up crying a lot, and for some strange reason I felt like he was saying his goodbye to me. What life can he have without his companion? 💔