Barack Obama
Obama standing with his arms folded and smiling
44th President of the United States
In office January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017
Vice President Joe Biden
Preceded by George W. Bush
Succeeded by Donald Trump
United States Senator from Illinois
In office January 3, 2005 – November 16, 2008
Preceded by Peter Fitzgerald
Succeeded by Roland Burris
Member of the Illinois Senate from the 13th district
In office January 8, 1997 – November 4, 2004
Preceded by Alice Palmer
Succeeded by Kwame Raoul
Personal details
Born Barack Hussein Obama II(1961-08-04) August 4, 1961 (age 55)Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Michelle Robinson (m. 1992)
Children
  • Malia
  • Sasha
Parents
Relatives See Family of Barack Obama
Education
Awards Nobel Peace Prize (2009)Profile in Courage Award (2017)
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Website

THIS STORY IF FOR «BO» - FROM HIS ANCESTERS IN PORTUGAL


Dear Mr. President,

Please ask your people to print this story, which the first lady Michelle and the girla will surely like to see.

It is a tribut to Portuguese Water dogs, almost extinguished in Portugal.

Sorry if it is not the best translation, but it shows the life of Bo's grand-grand-grand mothers.

We love you in Portugal.
God bless you
God bless your family
God bless America!

Julieta Lima


DONA BIBAS

August, early morning, somewhere along the coast of Algarve, off the Lighthouse Island….


My mother, dona Bibas, wasn’t feeling too well by the time the trawler left, but skipper Eduardo took her in his lap.

“You’ll have your babies on the water, on top of the sea…they are water babes after all...”

She had been panting since the early dawn. It was her very first labour.

Still tried to drink a sip of milk, but then, smitten with pain, she went to lie down with her tongue out and a pair of shiny life-promising eyes.

“You’ll have to mind that dog today skipper Eduardo! And you won’t get much work done by the looks of it…not until she gets all the little fellas out!”

And skipper Eduardo laid her down at the bow on top of a blanket, under a small shelter framed by pots and shrimp nets.

“Keep it going girl….go on…she is wrecked….gives us a hand here, João.”

João had fathered 7 children. Had delivered them too, no money for doctors. Luxuries of the rich.
“João! Give us a hand.”

They all gathered around the rounded shape of my mother.
João fondled her wide belly, and pressing it lightly said “You slapper… pretty big catch … what an adventure you fool…»
They stopped the engines and anchored the boat. Childlike traits gradually softening the windswept dry faces of the men.

“ A rag….give us a rag, there, under the bench….and a drop of water.”

“Come on girl, lets drink a bit, there, there, keep it going….keep on going….”

“Here he comes.”

“Ah mae, she is bursting!”

“Here is. A big fat one, fat as a bream”

Shortly after, the others were born, all boys. Charra, Zeca, Ambaneta and Albine , they all came out one straight after the other.

“You are spent girl! Almost there, go on, just a little longer.”

Her strength was running out, but those raugh hands gave her the courage of a magic velvet. The strength for knots and ropes broke up into gentleness as they caressed the new pups.

“Go girl, another little drop of water, come on…”

After a good while my sister Carochinha was born followed by brother Patude, and then, cutting it fine, just bordering the miracle, I arrived.

With much effort, my mother tore the bag that was suffocating me.

“It’s another girl boys, another girl, but this one is very flimsy though, she is a wee little mite compared with the others… she is like a Formiga”

“God love her! She’ s a bag of bones…”

I felt the sun warming my bloodied body- as if the sun was another placenta- and filled my lungs with air.

Oh, the air! The thick air of the full tide …there on the swing of the water.

I didn’t understand straight away if I was coming or going. I felt in between nothings, I wept softly, not feeling much strength for a big cry.

“This one is half-way there…not much of a build… she won’t make it.”

Then, skipper Eduardo lifted his hand high up in the air and brandished it against his naked chest : “We will have nobody dying here on this boat.”

His rough hand was just like the softest cotton and velvet.

“That’s a good girl…good girl…”

I breathed in more of that sea filled air and nodded off to sleep on that sun drenched chest.

“There’ll be no dying here…” That hand was my cradle, my paradise …
“I’ll be damned if this dog doesn’t grow to be the champion of them all.”

So, Formiga became my name and, not to let our good man down, I did turn out to be the champion of the litter.

When I was 4 weeks old I went tried out the water. So good, so good…
God must haven known what he was doing when he gave us duck feet.

“You bold thing… she swims like a fish.”

All the nets I have untangled….Go Formiga, catch Formiga. I saved Canhamba in the Morocco sea. A strong bad tempered tide and the southeast wind up my snout…I could hardly breathe. But I caught him by the neck, all purple and in bits…I even got prawns for dinner that time – Good girl, the best girl….

Another day, out and about, there were 9 or 10 of our men going with the nets for a sea red with the mullet and 2 of the fiscal police on the watch…

“Quick Pardal, fill it up quick, the pigs are near…”

And lo and behold, when we got to dry land there he was, Capuche from the coast guards.

Straight away we got into a big scuffle, because he wanted 3 quarters of the fish for himself. The men said no, and he kept on pushing…soon I see that devil running forth to have a go at Carlites, I couldn’t hold it anymore and sunk my teeth into his wrist. Nearly pulled his hand out. The wretch!

Big life, so much life. All around here, the most beautiful “ria ” in the whole wide world, in our sea, over to Morocco, to Spain even the Guadiana .
To those parts we used to bring our big load of eggs or coffee, half-mast sail, waiting for the Spanish boats to collect our goods.

It was dangerous, but the men had to make a living. Sometimes they got away with it, but many times my heart sank watching them throwing it all into the sea before being caught. All the same, much better in the bottom of the sea going all the way down to feed the fish, then in the greedy bellies of the coastal guards.

“Joel, tie the dog with the rope before she goes mad.” They knew. They knew that if that wretched guard raised his voice on board our boat….

Good times. Never tiring, work, play, fooling with the lads, my sure share of “Caldeirada” …even when food was scarce, my crust was always guaranteed. And “Telhude”, Ah, “Telhude” the strongest water dog ever… also gone his way…

Now? Odd question. Now? I never had much time for questions in my life. Straight ahead. Eat, work, fight for what seemed right. Why this good feeling when, almost lifeless, I ask – Now?

“Lay her out in the sun skipper.”

The sun. The shine, good God, the shine!
I can now see it without opening my eyes.
The sea… low tide?
Skipper Pexinha holds me just like in the first day, I hear his voice from afar, so near, in the lull of his arms. I feel again the warm shelter caressing my body.

“Skipper, don’t be crying…pull yourself together. The dog had to die some day…”

I can’t hear anything else. Now I am the sea, the sea along the coast of the Lighthouse Island taking me to the other side, out there, where the wind and the seagulls are the shepherds for all the water dogs.

Julieta Lima
(from «Porta Sim Porta Não»
Translated by Rita Garland)

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