Sometimes the only way to get a thought out of your head is to put it down on paper. A few years ago this would have meant to take out a pad of paper, a journal or even just a scrap to be tucked in a book and a pen, and write down your thoughts. When I first left the states and came to live in Brasil I wrote often in my journal. Now I open ‘flowers’ and post. Under the label ‘Culture Shock’ I’ve written about things in my new life that contrasted with the old. Things that had to be thought out and resolved, or not. And if I did it well enough you might find it interesting, thinking about what I’ve written and what I didn’t say, the blank space that you can fill in with your own experiences and you might spend some time thinking. These are my favorite posts. Here are more words that need to be written.
The day after I arrived back from the USA this November we received notice that Manuel, our gardener, had died. Manuel had worked for Camillo practically since the house in Nova Friburgo was first built, nearly 25 years. He kept our garden immaculate. He was paid a lump sum amount for the month and had the freedom to come when he needed to, to keep the gardens to his and Camillo’s standards. He arrived most weekdays at 6:30am and left around 9:30am. He often came through on Saturday and Sunday to make sure the flower pots were watered and the trash was taken down the hill. He brought me orchids and other flowers from the forest. He never looked directly at us. He never took anything away from the house that he hadn’t ask first. In twenty-five years, he never made assumptions of friendship; in his own mind he was the ‘jardineiro’ and Camillo was the patron. The garden that we enjoy so much is the fruit of his labors. He was a part of the fabric of our lives. He was an alcoholic.
Ironically, when the floods and landslides came through here last January, his little house had just been completed. It took him nearly 10 years to finish the house. Rushing water did not destroy it, but moved it a bit off the foundation. Camillo and I help to pay to have a large retainer wall to be put beneath the house. He was going to fill in between the house and the wall and put in a garden area. He survived the floods. Ironically, on the Sunday he died, he began to drink as he sometime would. Drink until unable to walk or to talk. He made his way home along the dark dirt road and either lay down to sleep, or fell, or stumbled; no one really knows. It began to rain hard. The ditch filled with mud and water and he drowned as he lay. Not an accident, but a tragedy, a waste of life that could have been avoided. I almost said prevented, but it was really a tragedy waiting. In all of his loneliness, he would never have imagined how much space he filled in our lives. We will miss seeing him in our garden.