Today at dinner Renata and I were listening to that wonderful bossa nova album of Stan Getz and João Gilberto from 1963, known widely for its most famous track The Girl from Ipanema. Singing along, with the little Portuguese I still have left, one thing led to another and before long I was shedding a quiet tear, remembering my beloved father.
On my last night in Brazil, at the age of 17, in June 1979, the family had all turned in for the night, wanting to be ready to face the big day tomorrow, the flight to Rio and then on to Miami. Suddenly, there was the gentle sound of a choir of voices singing softly outside in the tropical breeze. We hurried to the front porch to find our house surrounded by a large group of young adults, come to bid our family – and especially my father – good-bye.
This is what they were singing:
Tributo à amizade*
O céu escureceu, estrelas a brilhar; a lua já surgiu iluminou, iluminou
O meu caminho que era tão incerto, e a mão de meu amigo me mostrou
Mão cheia de amor, cheia de carinho, derramando amizade no seu coração
Que renasceu, que renasceu.
Em cada olhar brilha o amor dentro de uma lágrima a rolar, a rolar.
Em cada rosto vê-se a esperança de um dia se reencontrar.
Muito obrigado por sua amizade
Leve, ao partir, o nosso amor que nunca acabará, não acabará!
The song, A Tribute to Friendship, is a song about being there for each other, of being thankful for another, and the hopeful longing of one day being together again. There have been few moments in my life that matched the emotion of this tender farewell.
My father had taught for years at the local gatherings of Young Life and Teen Challenge. He had little formal theological education, but what he knew he passed on. More importantly, even though he only became an officially ordained minister in his 70’s, he was the best pastor I have ever seen. By far. These young people were deeply impacted by his life, and came to say thank you in a typically generous Brazilian fashion.
* Here’s the only Youtube video I can find of the song, done by a church group. The tune is the same as I remember it, but I have to say that the people around our front porch that night did a better job of singing!