My vavó and vovô: Another immigration story


photo courtesy of Marissa Castro

My vavo Maria Hortensia and my vovo Alvaro Mota on their wedding day in 1978.

Marissa Castro

The recent Immigration Day and writing about my other set of grandparents inspired me to do an article on my Portuguese immigrant grandparents on my mother’s side. 

Minha Entrevista com minha vovó

My vavó Maria Hortência Amaral was born September 28, 1956 to Maria Dos Anjos Carvalho and Antonio Jacinto Carvalho in Vila franca do Campo, Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal.

She grew up as one of seven siblingsthree sisters, three brothers.  From oldest to youngest, it was Maria Jose, Normanda , Antonio, Maria Hortencia, Liberta, Duarte, and Carlos. My bisavó actually had 12 kids but several of them died.

My vavo grew up in a hard-working family; my great grandpa was a door-to-door salesman of ceramics, and my great grandmother was a Portuguese housewife. My great aunts Maria Jose and Normanda worked as maids at a very young age.

In my vavo’s interview she explained that her family’s education was terrible, because in Portugal the government doesn’t pay for their education. It was why her sisters Maria Jose and Normanda only made it to the fourth grade. My vavo and the rest of her siblings only made it to third grade.

My vavo worked really hard back in Portugal and still works hard now in Golden Canoils Factory in Chelsea. My vavo knew what work was at the age of 15 years old when she worked at the hospital with my vovo’s sisters.

My vavo is still a hard working independent woman, that’s one of the things that I love most about her. Her story inspires me everyday; she comes from having nothing to having a lot in life, to me she is a superwoman she can do everything.

Vida de minha Vovo 

My vovô Álvaro Mota Amaral was born on September 20, 1952 to Zilda Mota de Paiva and Antonio Jacinto Amaral.

My vovô was born in Nordeste, São Miguel, Portugal to a poor family; his father was a fisherman, his mother was a housewife. He was the oldest of his siblings Alvaro, Fernando, Fatima, Maria, and Carlos. 

My vovo was really young when he lost his father. He was about 9 years old when his father died in a tragic boating accident. My great grandpa was going on a fishing trip with some friends and they all passed away due to bad weather conditions; he was buried at sea.

My vovo had already started working as a young 14-year-old boy, and by the age of 18 or 19 years old he was drafted to the Portuguese military. Growing up my vovo always knew the value of a dollar; he did everything to provide for his family.

Amor de Minhas avós  

If there is one story I could hear over and over again it would be the love story of my avos. I find their story to be very sweet.

My vovo and my vavo met through my tia Maria Helena Amaral, who worked at the hospital with my vavo at the time. So she decided to show my vavo’s picture to him.

There weren’t rules saying that it was illegal to date a younger personwell at least not in Europe at that time.

My vavo was 15 years old at the time she started to date my vovo who was 19 at the time. Not a lot of people knew that she was dating him; the only person who did know was my great grandma on my vavo’s side,

They were together for seven years before they got married on May 17, 1978. In my vavo’s interview she said that he wasn’t exactly the most romantic man in the world when he asked her to marry him.

If my vovo was still alive they would’ve been married for 42 years out of the seven years of dating, but all together they would’ve been together for 49 yearsnext year would’ve been their 50th anniversary.

Their relationship was incredible; they just prove that sometimes there’s only one true love in the world.

Vida juntos 

After they got married my vavo immigrated to America on August 12, 1978 and she lived on Cambridge Street for a little while.

In late September my vovo joined her, and after two years of marriage they had a baby girl (my mom) named Monica Paula Amaral on December 5, 1981 in Cambridge Hospital.

My mom joined the interview; I asked her how it was growing up with immigrant parents. My mom explained that her first language was Portuguese when she was little because no one spoke English at home. She also told me that she lived in Cambridge Street for 14 years before moving to Webster Ave. 

In 1997 my vovo was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer; on May 21,2001 he passed away. My mom was just 18 years old when he passed, my vavo was 44 years old when he passed.

But he wasn’t the only one that passed away. Within 4 years my mom and Vavo lost four people: Antonio Jacinto Carvalho. Alvaro Mota Amaral.Duarte Manuel Carvalho. Maria Dos Anjos, and Carvalho.

Even through the tough times my mom and vavo stuck by each other. That’s what makes my family so amazinglove. Even though we have been through a lot over the years, we are still there for each other when we need it the most.