In My Father's Footsteps

by Connie Hand

The sun was bright under a clear azure sky. The birds were merrily singing on that beautiful Summer morning. As I stood by the country road and stared at the house in front of me, my heart was pounding. I was in Nariz, Portugal standing in front of a house that was typical of the area. But this house was special to me because it was the one in which my father was born. Immediately I thought of the stories he used to tell about his childhood in Portugal and his journey to America.

I always loved to hear about far away places and thought that one day I would travel to Portugal to visit those little towns and big cities that Dad talked about in such a vivid way.

The story of my father, Augusto Silva began on June 8, 1911 in Nariz in the district of Aveiro. He was the second of five children born to Maria and Luis Silva, and it was not an easy life. The family farmed their lands  and tried to make ends meet. In 1927, Dad decided to emigrate to the United States, and it was a life-altering decision. He researched what was necessary for his journey. It must have been very hard on both of them when his widowed mother gave him her approval to leave. He told me he vowed to go back to visit this sweet woman, and he did keep that vow. He described that visit with tears in his eyes.

He traveled to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and worked there for several months until he discovered that Portugal’s emigration quotas were filled for the next several years. He was advised to travel to France to take up residency in Paris. He told me that he worked in Paris doing odd jobs. I remember Dad telling me that Paris was a huge, beautiful city. He said he saw as many sights as he could, but he really couldn’t wait to get to America.

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Almost a year ago, Christine Wilson lost her beloved husband John, a descendant of two tribes through his Maori mother and Scottish father. This is the letter she wrote to him in the next world as she reflected on her connection to John (Mahiti). 


Dear John,

As our mortal days roll by, suddenly the first anniversary of your passing is almost upon us. I continue to love you deeply!

Life here, of course, has certainly changed but not with the morbid, negative repercussions I secretly feared. You are missed constantly by many, yet somehow you are so with us. We are “buffaloing on,” to use the phrase of my friends Judie and Paul. It refers to the buffalo in Yellowstone in the winter, when the weather conditions can be extreme.  The buffalo just keep their heads down and move, slowly, onward.

The mystery of life has become more mysterious, yet the space between our mortal world and yours has shrunk. You are so much closer now.

As for me, personally, your presence is always within me….a part of me…and has changed me on many levels. I feel the most amazing oneness with you, impacting everything I do.

But you are also you and I am me, still with our individual personalities and characteristics, yet together we have created another entity—mysterious, powerful and wonderful.

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