“Within the microcosm and the macrocosm there are worlds in their own time and space” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Julia Nogueira ©Camila Gargantini

Taking her portrait was very emotional for me. My grandmother, Julia Nogueira, just turned 90 this past March 23rd. There was a party. Most of our huge family of 7 children, 28 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren were there to celebrate. I made the trip down from Canada to be there. And deep in my heart I feel that this is the last time I will see her. I didn’t want to let her go, but I had to. Life is a cycle of holding on and letting go. And I try to practice that constantly, by living with passion and moving on with closure. She had an amazing life. She built an amazing family. I can only hope to be as strong as she has been her entire life. – Camila G

Image © Camila Gargantini

An Interview with Julia

Due to her state of mind (very forgetful) and the language barrier, I have translated, to the best of my abilities, the answers that she gave me during our conversation… – Camila G

Me: What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

Her: I don’t recall it.

Me: Really? How about your 90th birthday this past Saturday.

Her: It was good, it was good.

Me: Anything else? Something special? Anything?

Her: (no answer)

Me: Let me ask you… how about your 80th birthday, when I came to your home from Canada and surprised you?

Her: It was great (with a cute little smile on her face and with a soft voice that seemed as if she reminisced clearly that moment in time). Then she adds: When I was 80 I was another woman, I am now a bagaço (which means the chewed up part of a fruit you may discard… we laughed. I continued to tell her that I thought I would kill her of a heart attack when I had arrived back then in 2005 as she got really emotional.) She went on to tell me: I will only die if I have no more money to spend… and we laughed hard some more.

Me: How about the worst? And why?

Her: I don’t… my life has been all good. Me, a tabaroa da gota serena, I have seen all of Europe, I’ve been to the USA, what else would I want??

Me: What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

Her: I like everything…

Me: But isn’t there something special? Something someone gave to you that you treasure? She murmurs something… I say: I know of a story..

Her: Go, tell me to see if I remember it…

Me: I recall you didn’t have pierced ears. You got a pair of earrings as a gift from a friend you’ve met in the USA. You went on to get it done… How old were you?

Her: I don’t know….

Me: 60 or so….

Her: Or more.

Me: Was it a good present?

Her: Yes…

Me: Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

Her: I am picky with food because food that other people cook I don’t like. And if I look at the face of a person and I don’t like I distance myself. (laughter)… I am weird, but God made me this way. What am I gonna do? (she goes on talking about how she likes to cook her food and how other people have no clue how to do it…)

Me: What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday? I went on to add: if you like to celebrate, of course, cause you may not like it….

Her: I’m gonna tell you.. I don’t like it. I do it because of my children. I don’t like this stuff, but they want to do it so… But having a chic family like mine nobody has… have you seem someone have so many children and none of them is astray?

I forgot to ask her the very last question… I went on to take a couple more images (which I had not planned for) but ended up being the one I chose to use. Her beside the image of her at 15.