I've been here two months, did a few shows, got into a few interviews and caught up with a few friends and family. But nothing, so far, has been as awe-inspiring as spending time with my Dad.
I wrote a joke back in London about my dad saving me from something when I was very small, which is part of the bigger truth, of the bond between us I missed for so long growing up in a matriarchal home. But now, after 12 years away, I've been relishing the little moments we share together, for as a teenager I never fully appreciated the impact he had on me, and in his twilight years fraught with medical uncertainty for his health, I aim to take the time to enjoy every moment.
In a nutshell...he may be the quiet one at the back you should look out for, but in my life one of the funniest men I've ever known.
Last week my mom asked that we head off to the cemetery to weed my grandfather's grave. Yuck.
I find this activity lacking in what you might call fun, but not in the convoluted "omg I dnt wnt to b here, ths sxs, Im mssng rgby fr ths!" kind of way, but more of the creepy, "what if we're unlucky enough that Armageddon starts just as we're smack in the middle of a cemetery and grandpa rises up to bite at my ankles?" type.
My dad, being the frail old mentor he is today, shambles forward towards the dishevelled plot with a hoe and declares his intent to dig the weeds out, but like a young Hercules, I braved the fear of grass-cut on my fingers, huffed and puffed, and said, "Dad, why are you so eager to join your father-in-law? Don't worry, I'll take care of this."
Hell yeah, I'm gonna hoe the f*** out of my grandfather's grave.
It ended up being a lesson in humility, as my aged parent instructed me in the art of sinking that iron into the dirt deep enough to reach the wretched roots of weeds so entrenched they could be close enough to the coffin, and the last thing on my mind was to hear the thud of metal against wood thereby disturbing long-deceased Frank's inappropriate slumber.
And being a lazy arse, I bit down on the tiny spurts of protests trying to escape my lips as my back un-exercised back sounded the alarms of pain and discomfort at this seemingly undeserving abuse, while my father pointed out the flaws of bringing children up in the suburbs and not on a farm with "real" work. To be criticised for not finding a wife and settling down with a steady job is one thing, but if a pensioner is giving you lip badly you're using a ground tool like a closet homosexual, that s**t bites deep y'know.
And once those green bastards were lying on a pile on someone else's grave (c'mon, gotta have a little fun), came the task of leveling the ground out in a general order and my dad, the hero, showed me how expertly a geriatric with five heart attacks, two cancers and near-blindness can be using a hoe.
Hell yeah, he levelled the f*** out of his father-in-law's grave.
Today I took the day out to help my father sort out the contact details for his state pension, which in itself is a ghastly thing for any human being to do, let alone for a gentlemen hitting 7 decades of his life on this planet.
We were ushered into the general waiting room filled with other wrinkled faces to, well, wait...for our chance to fill out a questionnaire that would help to identify his existence, and an old auntie with what could be construed as the oldest "phat ass" I could think of chirped up, "Yes, you can wait here, I can take care of your father for you."
My only response was, "Madam, my dad is a sexy man, I'd be careful if I was you."
A lovely giggle echoed throughout the hall, and my dad's blushing laugh gave me a guilty pleasure, as I hardly get to see him with a smile on his face despite the worries he has, so in a way I was both incredulously selfish for turning the somber situation into a humorous one AND extremely grateful I made his day.
We were required to proceed to his former employer in need of a document proving his employment there, and what followed was a half hour of my dad standing around with his old boss socialising, and that again brought an appreciation for a man that seems to stay at home watching the crappy Portuguese channel my doting mother loves so dearly. And here, I found Mr. De Gouveia in his element, his wit and charm coming to the fore as he dittled around the room like a butterfly telling tales of his current medical problems but with a enthusiasm that I find both endearing and equally proud to see.
In that moment, I realised, I'm glad I made the decision to come back.
Plus...he scored us a free box of chips laced with salt and vinegar. F***ing heaven.