In November 2017 I took a Swiss Air flight from Zürich to São Paulo. I had come to solve some of the company’s bureaucratic problems here in Switzerland. It was a long week, no stroll. But, this flight back to Brazil would reserve a very interesting surprise.
Flying in economy class, one of the cheapest, I settled in the back of the aircraft, in that corner where there are only two seats and the bathroom door. I ended up sitting in the hall, which was a great gift from the check-in employee. Beside me, at the window, a man was already sitting at the window when I arrived.
His name was Carlos (of course it is not his name) and, as a good Brazilian, I immediately started referring to the gray-haired man with Mr. Carlos. Gaúcho de Caxias do Sul, told me one of the most impressive life narratives. The flight lasted 12 hours, but from takeoff to landing, we seemed not to fly, but to glide over Rio Grande do Sul.
Seu Carlos was returning from a tour of Europe. He had spent a month with his daughter in northern Italy and a month with his son in Germany. The daughter had been married for 15 years and lived in Europe for more than 20. The youngest son a little, lived for 10 years in Germany, married for 7 years, as well as the sister, also had two children. Seu Carlos had spent two months with his grandchildren.
None of the grandchildren spoke Portuguese and none of them had been able to visit Brazil. Seu Carlos, since moving his children, spent two months a year in Europe with his grandchildren. At the beginning and up to 6 months before our meeting, I traveled with my wife. But she had died of cancer. And, here our adventure begins.
Born in Caxias, his Carlos was moved by his parents to Porto Alegre at the age of 15. He was sent to live in the attic of a tailor shop where he would learn the profession. Initially he spent 7 months without seeing his parents or siblings.
Luckily for life, he ended up enjoying the job. He devoted himself non-stop to work for years. He studied at night and worked during the day, slept in his attic. At the age of 19 he met his future wife, in a short time they were married and shared a small apartment near the tailoring.
When he was 21, tailoring closed, but as a gift from his boss, he got the equipment and raw materials he needed to start his own business. At 25 years old and the two oldest daughters already born, he had his own fabric store and, together, the tailoring.
The store caught fire when the third daughter was born. They had to start over and sell the house they had bought. When the son was born, they were already on the market again and, apart from two stores, they tried not to put all the eggs under the same chicken. The two oldest daughters played and were partners in a store with his mother and he played the store with the tailor.
During the recession and the imprisonment of savings in the Collor de Melo government, he lost everything again and had to close the doors of one of the stores. At that time, with his older children, he bought a house on the coast of Rio Grande do Sul and began to renovate it for retirement, but had to leave the project due to lack of financial conditions.
After the crisis, when the renovation of the house on the beach was resumed, it had been invaded and was under litigation for capion use. A process that has dragged on for more than seven years. In that time, he ended up buying another house and renovating. And, that was lucky, because he lost the case and the house.
When the third daughter moved to Italy to become her future husband, the family went through an extremely difficult drama. The tailoring was robbed and Seu Carlos ended up being shot. He spent several months undergoing surgeries between life and death. The assailants had pulled over a truck at the store during the night and were emptying the store when a neighbor called to let them know. Seu Carlos went to find out what was going on. He sneaked into the store and ended up being punished for his heroism.
Two years later, his son moved to Germany at the invitation of the company he worked for. During this period, the oldest daughters spent most of their time in stores and, Carlos and his wife were able to start making trips to Europe to visit their heirs.
Every year, they kept the money and went to visit their children and stroll through the old continent. But, he was already 65 years old and the trips were tiring and heavy, but they were worth it. It was a little strange that the grandchildren didn’t speak Portuguese, but still, love is above all that, and they adored their grandchildren and vice versa.
Without remembering exactly when, Mr. Carlos told me that “there, yes, the difficult period of life began”. The wife started to have body pains and, when she went to the doctor, she discovered she had cancer. It took two years of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It was two years without seeing the grandchildren. He spent two years taking care of his wife.
This reinforced the bonds between the two, leaving the couple more intimate and more companion. As soon as she was discharged from her treatments and her cancer was
unsuccessful, they resumed their travels to see their grandchildren. It was two long years. But in the end, they definitely retired and lived in the beach house where they could rest and have a calmer life.
They were able to take a cruise gathering their four children and all their grandchildren, they spent a week on the family ship: sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, son, daughters and grandchildren. “The best week my wife has ever had. I’ve never seen her so happy. ” The treatment had been left behind, five years had passed and she was strong, healthy and happy. Upon landing in Porto Alegre she passed out in the lobby.
The cancer had returned.
Two more years of treatment, but this time she couldn’t resist. “We suffered a lot. She more. I was in a lot of pain ”.
Seu Carlos doesn’t want to make the trip alone. It would be the first visit for the grandchildren without the wife. It would be the first flights without her. In the end, the trip was pleasant, it was good to see the children and grandchildren. The son had changed cars.
According to Carlos, his luck is to be Brazilian.
So, both on flights to Europe and on return flights, he had met friendly people to talk to. With whom to share life.