A strong woman

Heloisa Bezzi was born on April 1, 1916 in the mountainous town of Petropolis, Brazil to a very influential family. She was the oldest of four children. Her great-grandfather was the Viscount of Ouro Preto, the last prime minister of the Brazilian monarchy, and her grandfather was a famous writer and founding member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Her family was extremely well connected and she was assured of life of leisure and education. She learned English and French and played the piano and the accordion. But a life of leisure was not what she wanted for herself.

Her father, a cattle rancher, died when she was 14 and the day after the funeral, she packed her bags and moved in with an aunt. Her relationship with her mother had always been difficult and she saw no reason for staying. “Where are you going?” Her mother asked when she saw her suitcase packed. “The only person I cared about in this house is now dead – I see no reason for staying”. She was hard, very hard.

She studied. She went to university in a day and age when few people did. Not satisfied with that, she moved a thousand kilometers south to work as an accountant in an Engineering firm. She still has a picture of all the employees together – she’s the only woman.

At 28 years old, she was engaged to a diplomat but still unmarried. She then met João Paiva, an illiterate cowboy at her father’s ranch, four years her junior. Their relationship shocked the family. They accused him of marrying her for the money. She promptly gave up every penny and they got married. He had to teach her how to wash dishes and she had to teach him how to write his own name. They were poor and both worked full time. When asked about her fortunes she simply replied “I’ve had the life of privilege, now I want to experience the other side of the coin.”

He died from congenital heart disease at the age of 64, after 40 years together. She never forgot him. Together they raised seven strong-willed daughters, one of which is my mother.

Vó, esse dia é para a senhora…

Me & gramma

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Author: guerson

Born and raised in Brazil, a Canadian stole my heart and took me to Canada in 1999. After seven years between Montreal and Toronto, we then moved to Barcelona, Spain, where I did research for my PhD thesis. This blog began as a chronicle of our adventures while living in Barcelona and exploring the old world and has acquired a life of its own after we moved back to Canada.

12 thoughts on “A strong woman”

  1. Obrigada Fê!
    Ela está fazendo 91 anos em algumas semanas e é a principal razao de eu querer ir ao Brasil assim que voltarmos ao Canada. A saúde anda frágil e eu quero muito vê-la…

    Ela nunca foi a típica avó carinhosa, sempre foi uma pessoa muito dura e rígida. Mas eu sempre a admirei muito e nós sempre tivemos uma relaçao especial. Ela, que nao gostava muito de crianças, queria que minha mae me desse pra ela criar quando eu era neném. Pode?! Mas é uma mulher muito bem vivida e eu a admiro por isso…

  2. Awww, Alexandra, such a beautiful post! What a wonderful woman, your grandma. And this picture is fantastic- you two look stunning (and you both have the same sweetness in your eyes).
    You write beautifully and this is the best homage. Congratulations on our day! Beijos.

  3. Que foto mais linda, Ale!

    Infelizmente ja passa da meia noite e eu estou caindo de sono. Volto amanha para ler tudo com calma.

    Bjs e parabens pelo dia,

    Regina

  4. Oi gente!
    Obrigada por passarem por aqui!

    Regina, Denise
    Fico aguardando sua visita com mais calma quando vcs levantarem – eu sei que Washington tá umas 5 horas antes mas California, eu nem imagino!!

    Bjos
    Alexandra

  5. Alexandra, estou apaixonada por D. Heloisa! ela ganhou uma fã, que mulher maravilhosa, poderosa! tinha visto só a foto e quando li o post, agora, entendi essa cara de orgulho sua. As duas estão lindas e fortes. Bela família! É muito bom ter essas referências dentro de casa.

    Mudar pra casa da tia logo após a morte do pai foi uma decisão incrível e sãbia pra alguém tão jovem. Impressionante.

  6. Oi Dê!

    Minha vó é muito poderosa mesmo. Sempre foi uma verdadeira matriarca para a família. Talvez por isso eu nunca tive a noção da mulher como “sexo frágil” pois as mulheres da família são todas MUITO fortes…

    Eu já a vi encarar uma revólver apontado pra cara dela sem o menor medo. Eu queria ter essa força dela… ;)

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