I remember the day we met sitting at a round table at ESALQ, jeans jacket, white t-shirt. Little did I know he was about to become one of my closest friends.
His favorite saying was, "Aw, Come On!"
He called me "menina" and "my friend".
He hated to see me cry and told me that anyone with blue eyes was not allowed to cry, only brown eyes are allowed this luxury. Brown eyes are ugly, but blue eyes, they are SO beautiful they could never experience sorrow. I cried a lot when I lived in Brazil. I often felt quite alone because of the language - a language I love dearly but struggled so much with. But Zé Mauro was there to cheer me up.
We had a pact. He would speak only English to me and I only Portuguese to him. He always made me do the ordering when we were in public, he would make me talk on the phone (that was so hard!).
He went to lunch with me, the movies, to a book signing, my birthday party, dancing, even out on a Friday night to play Yahtzee and eat pastel de carne. He made me feel so welcomed, he was my friend.
He IS a heart of gold.
Recently my friend married the woman of his dreams. A woman from his town, where they have bought land next to the Amazon River. A woman that is drop dead gorgeous and has a smile that instantly puts you at ease, such a lovely woman. Soon he will become a professor at the university in Santarém, a dream come true. He and his wife will build a house on their land and he will be reunited with his family.
Family is the most important thing in life to Zé Mauro. He has never understood how I can live so far from my family and I have given up trying to explain to him what my Alaskan life gives me. He chides me every time we talk because I'm too alone, too independent, too far away.
Zé Mauro - I love you. You are so beautiful and I am so excited to see you complete your
Your kindness, friendship, compassion, and chiding have filled my heart with only the kind of warmth the hot Brazilian sun can bring.
Saudades meu bem. Um beijão.