Grandfather Antonio

Projeto Serra is a celebration of the same things, people and lifetime spaces . Our mission has been to echo what is simple, but huge in our lives. Therefore, today we are launching a monthly section on our website - on these pages you will be able to discover stories of normal people who, because of who they are and what they do, have no equal. And they are worth knowing. 

To begin with, we couldn't help but choose António Pinto, our grandfather. A figure unknown to others, but someone we will never forget. The account of his life is intertwined with the history of Portugal, since the mid-1930s. In it we find points of encounter with other lives, but through his voice, we know that it has been a unique life.

It was in the north, where the Douro and Tâmega embrace, that “bu” António was born, more than 90 years ago. The spectacular view over the river valley did not add to the life of the single mother who raised it alone. Mother Mary of Jesus was a model of women's determination – she was the baker responsible for distributing bread. I would leave home early, with the canasta on my head and only return around 11am. He left early and had a long journey to make, but he couldn't do without leaving a dry chat to António, who at just a few years old was already alone at home.

With the war raging across Europe and the state of our country, grandfather was forced to leave school to go to work and help his mother. He considers himself lucky, because, unlike many he knew, he was always treated well by the farming couple he worked for. The salary was not enough, but it made a difference in their lives.

At the age of 13, with his mother out of work, he was forced to leave the land where he was born and head to Porto. He worked as a farmer, washer and also bottled Port Wine. In between, I learned and persisted. And he also ran away when things went wrong.

It's time for António to go to the troops. At the time, military service was more than obligatory and was a transition from boy to man. What these young people lost in affection and a sense of home, they gained in muscle and resistance. Luckily, his grandfather did not have to participate in any transatlantic conflict and the biggest arguments he experienced in the troops were because of his mustache. For the grandfather, the troop was an excuse to go for a walk and see more of our country's landscapes. First, Vila Real, then Chaves and, finally, Aveiro. Did our passion come from here?

Having completed the service, the stiffened man finally gained the courage to declare his love for his childhood friend. It stopped being just António to be both of each other and both of life – António and Aurora! This love story has contours that, nowadays, make us laugh – why would the grandfather offer a sheep to his father-in-law to marry his daughter?

From this love three children emerged – Ilídio, António and Florinda – all named after their godparents. From the beauty of seeing your first child born to the mysteries of children's games that remain unsolved, grandfather António fondly remembers the times spent together at home.

The only thing that would physically separate António from his family would be his own desire for independence and to give them a better life. His grandfather emigrated, like many, in the 60s. Interestingly, he went to Germany, where he had an acquaintance who spoke Italian and was able to sort things out for him. In the 18 years he spent there, he managed to buy a house, where all his children and dreams could fit. In 1976 he returned to Portugal and began a new career as a truck driver. Being a truck driver is hard, there were few hours of rest between stops and journeys. The optimistic spirit of his grandfather prevails and sees this career as something very pleasurable, especially for those who like to go for walks and see new faces and landscapes. In 1989, the profession he was passionate about ended up putting him between life and death, in a tragic accident. Medical care and, perhaps, his grandfather's persevering spirit allowed him a quick recovery and health that, even when he failed, managed to persist. Today, he is 91 years old and is better than many who are 40. Unfortunately, Grandma Aurora no longer drinks the morning barley with him, nor does she call him to the garage for lunch. However, when he looks back and takes stock of his life, it is in her that he speaks, when he smiles. He remembers the picnics they had together and what she cooked for them to eat.



It was good to talk to “bu” António and realize that he feels the mission has been accomplished. He did what he had to do and left his mark on those who mattered most to him. It is an example of perseverance and righteousness that is worth knowing. Not worth?


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  • Como sou apaixonado por pessoas e histórias, é comovente e inspiradora a história do Avô António! Obrigado pela partilha :)

    Rui Francês on

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