Ataide Melo-Machado Family in Belo Horizonte

By Susanna Melo

Approximately a year and a half after my first husband, Cecil Melo, died in Columbia, SC, I made a point of traveling to Recife, in northeast Brazil, to pay my respects to my mother-in-law. Seven years later, I was asked by my sister-in-law, Aninha, to return to Recife to resolve the sale of my home in which my mother-in-law had lived for 27 years. At this time, D. Teresa was beginning to show the first signs of Alzheimer’s, and my sister-in-law felt that it was time for her mother to move to Belo Horizonte, where she could be surrounded by family and receive better care. Five years have since passed, and again we planned our trip to visit Aninha, her family and my mother-in-law, knowing that most likely D. Teresa would have no knowledge of who we were.

Susanna and Dona Teresa

D. Teresa looked as beautiful as ever as she sat poignantly in her wheelchair in front of her nursing home. She gazed at her daughter, son-in-law, Keith and me as we arrived from the street, and I sensed that she suspected that this group of individuals had come to see her. All her life she loved it when family members came by her home for a visit and she always had cake and “cafezinho” ready to serve. This time, though, she did not really know who we were, but related to us as if she did, and our incoherent conversation went on as if nothing had ever changed. To the outsider who could not listen in, the visit resembled a normal family gathering, but down deep in my heart, I felt saddened by the loss of the person I knew and with her all the family stories and history that she so often talked about.

D. Teresa could not be luckier than to have an amazing daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren that have rallied around her 24/7 during her Alzheimer’s debilitating process. When I used to write letters or send birthday cards from the U.S. to my young nephews and niece, I always told them how proud I was of them for they were always sweet, good-natured children and excellent students. I continue to be proud of them, especially as I see their caring ways with their grandmother.

Ataide Melo-/Machado family: Mauricio, Thiago, Aninha, Fred, Nathalie, and boyfriend, Rodrigo

These “children” have grown up and are healthy, attractive, intelligent and hard-working young people with responsible careers: Thiago works for a well-known advertising agency and was recently responsible for a state health project fighting dengue that appeared on Orkut, Facebook and TV. He also plays in three rock bands that travel throughout Brazil. Mauricio, a civil engineer, is overseeing the construction of 34 buildings with a total of 680 apartments. Nathalia works as a training program analyst for a graduate program in Management at the Dom Cabral Foundation.

D. Teresa may not be aware of the legacy she leaves behind as she sits in her wheelchair watching the world go by. But we are witnesses to the loving family she has.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: