And thirteen years after her cancer surgery, she turned 92! Happy birthday Grandma!

If my grandmother could read in English, she would be very angry at me just by reading the title of this post.

Last Saturday she turned 92, and this is the first reason for the presumed anger. My memories from her birthdays are all filled with the mystery surrounding her age: “Don’t you know that it is not polite to ask a woman her age?” – she would say refusing to give us any number. I would then throw my child inquiring look at my father just to hear him whispering: “I’ll tell you later”. I don’t remember getting answers later, so all I knew about her age came only when I was old enough to make my own estimates: “My father is X years old, my grandmother must have been between 18 and 26 when he was born, so she must be between X+18 and x+26 years old. In summary, I roughly knew when she was in her sixties, seventies, or eighties. She never lied about her age, she would just let you guessing.


Dad and grandma: cancer survivors!


Angela (mum), Vó Lalá (grandma), and Debbie (sister). 92? Who?

The second reason that would certainly provoke indignation from her part is the use of “cancer surgery” in the title. I can almost hear her saying: “Are you crazy? I’ve never had that disease!” She never mentioned the word cancer before or after the surgery. For her, cancer is the Voldemort of the diseases, the “You-Know-Who”, the “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”. After the surgery, the doctors decided that she was too old to go through an intense chemotherapy and opted for a lighter follow-through treatment. Point for her! Without chemo, who could argue that she indeed had “that disease”?

But the issues with revealing her age and of admitting having had cancer go beyond vanity or stubborn denial. I think they are attached to her willing to live… forever. Yes, she is that kind of person that wants to go on and on.

I’ll finish the post with the best post-surgery story that I know. We were all there to visit Grandma Lalá (her nickname) that was still in the hospital recovering from the surgery that had just removed about 15 cm of her intestine (could have been 10 or 20 but I don’t quite remember and I don’t think I should call her to ask 😉 ). At some point she started to complain about the surgery to my wife. Marcele began to comfort her by saying that the surgery had been a success and that all would be fine just to be interrupted by the determined 80 year-old (plus or minus 4 🙂 ): “I know all will be fine, darling. The problem is this huge scar on my belly! Will I ever be able to use my bikinis to go to the beach again? I hate using those one-piece swimsuits!” That says a lot about her.


Saúde! Dudu (brother), Vó Lalá and Gerson (grandpa) in another family celebration that I only take part via Skype and if the time difference allows… (sigh)

So, tomorrow I’ll be running the July marathon inspired by her, a brave survival of a disease that can be named and that can be fought against. Feliz aniversário vózinha!


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