What we have left
João Caetano Catalino was born on May 23, 1929 in Benavente. The fascination with airplanes and their early responsibility to help the family, it did so at nineteen joining the Air Force, reaching the rank of Sergeant Major specializing in Mechanical Aircraft Armament.
Secondment to the Alentejo lands, made him cross with my grandmother Deolinda. Persistently walked the same streets, the same places, in the hope of being noticed. In exchange of glances, a long courtship by the window, and always accompanied with appropriate distances, vowed to love forever. Softens me the love, the affection, the complicity that continue to nourish one by the other.
I remember seeing every morning, start his day with a methodical and vigorous number of push-ups at the entrance of the bathroom. “Heritage” that accompanies me daily, in an attempt, perhaps vain, to continue his routines as disciplinary characteristics of never giving up to stay active. Comes to mind their permanent activity, his invent and re-invent. If it was not a paint job would have to do at home, was taking care of plants, a mobile retrieve a thoroughly organize his space and his tools, go to the market, the fish, the meat, the vegetables, the bread. In a pleasant and well-disposed “Good morning” and a chat with the saleswomen and who crossed on its way, but always with the responsibility that nothing was missing his family. Always active! A whole life marked by physical and mental activity of a man who does not know the word “quit”.
At 74 years old he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. We started to see the falls and his bend down ever so slightly to the right. Patiently, day after day, trying, slowly, to keep his routines, internalizing and comforting us it was temporary, that he would not give up!
I was going to see it through, from stage to stage of the disease without any traceback. Today my grandfather is 85 years old. Were about 11 years watching a husband, a father, a grandpa bending, falling, losing himself often in time and in space, often confusing me with a soldier who lovingly gives advice, looking to the space around his bed and weave authentic settings of the Ultramar’s war. Running out its capabilities every day, but with the constant concern to protect his family. In most lucid moments, today looks at each of us, his family, tears in his eyes, with a smile, tells us: “Thank you!”
By conducting this project I studied about the disease and I came across a graph whose constraints are time and disability. As one goes, the other increases. There is no backtracking. There is no hope. Unilateral paralysis. Bilateral paralysis. Imbalance. Falls. Dyskinesias. Dementia. Hallucinations.
That album full of old photographs of what they were when age was not caught on. That photograph of pass where our youth and immortality is made clear in our face. Memories… It is what stays. That’s what we have left.