A letter to my superwoman. I wish you were here making me popcorn... I wish you were her making me that yummy 'brigadeiro de panela'... I wish you were here telling me everything is going to be ok... I wish you were here to remind me of how stubborn I am, 'just like my father'... I wish you were here singing like no one is watching you... I wish you were here to see how much I've achieved, how much I've travelled, the wonderful people I have met... I wish you were to see how much you've influenced me and the way I choose to live my life... Your strength, your laugh, your passion, your kidness... You are everything to me... my superwoman. I just wish I could whisper I LOVE YOU once again. I miss you, grandma. I miss you so much it hurts. I wake up thinking of you and, I share all my secrets with you before I fall asleep, I ask for your advice, your guidance, I think of you when I celebrate an achivement, and I think of you when I do somethng stupid. I mean, would you be disappointed at me? What would you say? I want to make you proud. It's been years and I still struggle to believe you are no longer with us. I miss you. I miss your hug and feeling you kiss me good night. I wish I knew that the night of 16th Feb 1996 was going to be the last I'd ever have you saying "You are my girl" For the next generations to come, Here it is a little bit more about me, my childhood and why Manoela Gonçalves meant so much to me Janaina Scalise. My mother is the oldest of the kids. When I was born, my gradmother went to live with us so my mother could work. I remember everyone being jealous of my mum and I for having grandma around 24h, but I think she wanted to, somehow, thank my mother for helping her raise all the kids (they were in 9). My grandmother shared the bedroom with me. Gosh, only now I realise how lucky I was. Every night she read the bible. Every morning she would wake me up, prepare my breakfast and take me to school. My father, João Scalise, bought a piece of land in Interlagos to build a home for him and my beautiful mother Marlene Gonçalves Scalise. They were not married back then, but really wanted to live together. I was born 5 years later, in 1987. My father really dedicated himself to building a place him and my mum would never want to leave. They still leave in this place today 28.02.23. The place has been renovated many times, but it still has that special, cosy, homey feeling to it. I guess that's because of all the memories that come to mind the moment I walk in; it was the house of my dreams, perfect for them and fun for me. Sao Paulo had way more houses than you can find today. But my parent's house is still there. Intact. My house was the 'meet up' point. All kids would go to my place to make the most of the patio space, which is huge (for SP). We played hide and seek, capture the flag, marbles, lattoo, hopscotch...always outdoor. The house is in a middle-class neigbourhood and, like most of Sao Paulo, it's always busy. It's mostly concrete and not that many trees. Cars go up and down the road all the time. Nonetheless, it was the perfect childhood home. Things got even better when my grandma went to live home to take care of me. Every birthday my grandmother would take charge. Yes, I was very spoiled by her. Even though she looked serious, she'd always surprise me with the best party - yummy cake, amazing decoration, lots of colours. She put so much effort into everything that was for me. Everything handmade. The pictures here are from my last birthday with her. That day she played with the kids, helped my mother with all the food, socialised with everyone, danced, laughed, and, as always, made me feel like a queen. A few months later, she went to take me to school and one of the teachers said we were all practicing a dance for "festa junina", a typical party we have during the month of June in Brazil in which you will always have a bride and a groom. I was crying, because they wanted me to play the groom as there were not enough boys in the classroom. My grandmother asked the teacher whether there could be 2 brides and they said "unfortunately, we follow the tradition". So my grandmother pretended to conform, walked me home and start sewing a beautiful cinderal-like dress. I said "Grandma, what are you doing? they will not let me dance" and she looked me at me, smilled and said "my girl, just because it's traditional doesn't mean it's right". I couldn't believe she was breaking the rules. The day of the party arrived. She walks me to school and introduces me to the crowd "today we will have 2 brides". Some parents thought that was sweet and others were not happy at all. My teacher turns to my grandmother and say "we can't have an exception I'm afraid, it's not fair to the other girls" and my grandmother smiles and say "this is a school for kids and a party for kids only so let them be what they want to be and have fun simply <i>being</i>". It was one of the most special days of my childhood. I loved being the bride. My grandmother cooked dinner every night, as my mum worked until late and my father doesn't cook. One night my father complained about the food. My grandma put him in his place immediately. My father never said a word again. My grandmother defended my mum countless time from men that wouldn't respect such a tiny, kind, loving petit woman. She defended every son and daugther, every grandchild. She was a strong, fair, and fearless woman. And no one knew she was battling cancer for a log time on her own. I'm not sure why she never said anything, but I guess it's because she wasn't scared of dying. I think she wanted to do everything in her power, for as long as she could, to hold the family together. And she did. Without complaining. One night she got really sick. My mum put me in the car with her and gradma, and drove at crazy speed to the hospital. The doctor gave grandms 3 days to live. She lived 3 months. But that day, at the doctor, was the last day I saw her. The last thing she said to me after knowing she could die at any moment was "No worries, I'm fine. There is nothing to fear except a life of regrets. I have none. Now come here my girl, give me a hug" ... My gradmother was uneducated, very poor, raised 9 kids by herself and always worked. She was a cleaner, a cook, an artisan, a seller. She did what she had to do, always with dignity. She never complained and she'd never accept me saying she had a tough life. She was always grateful.