“Aging is part of life, we have to face it like this,” says housewife Aspasia d’Avila. At 95 she sees well, has few hearing problems, lives alone, cooks and even works. But the latter, despite its advanced age, is the youngest of the novelties.
Because she married early at 17, Aspasia d’Avila, 95, has never worked outside the home. “I worked from home and took care of my three children and my husband. It was a lot of work, yes. I didn’t have time for anything,” she says.
With the grown children, everyday life became quieter and she could devote herself to handicrafts. Curious, learned crochet alone and so it was with him amigurumi, Japanese handicraft technique for making dolls. In a short time, the hobby became a profession: in 2019 she started selling her production. “The feeling of having my own money was a lot of freedom. It’s amazing,” he says. “I am very proud of my work. I see people saying thank you, texting, and that makes me very happy,” she says.
She was introduced to the handicraft technique by her granddaughter Fabiana. It’s a combination of the words ami, which means braided in Japanese, and migurumi, a stuffed animal. Curious, Aspasia learned how to do the work herself through research on the internet and began creating angels and images for training about four years ago.
Aspasia D’Avila shows her amigurumis: more than 700 dolls made in 3 years Photo: Pedro Kirilos/Estadão
In her opinion, the first ones were pretty terrible. Despite this, the granddaughter created her own social network to popularize the work, following Aspasia’s nickname among her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren: vó Pati. It didn’t take long for orders to start pouring in. “When I saw that, I made my own money for the first time in my life.”
Turnaround after losses
Since she was 17, Aspasia has been supported by her husband Alziro, who worked in the construction industry. In her afternoons she took care of house and family. “I got really angry when he asked me what I need the money for when I asked about it. I said it was his business to pretend he was paying me to take care of him and the kids,” he says.
After the children were already grown, she took the opportunity to go to water aerobics, walk around in the neighborhood of Ipanema in Rio, where she lives, take naps. In addition to the dedication to manual work. “I made several clothes for my children and each grandson got a rug when they got married,” he recalls.
In 1994, Alziro had prostate cancer and died soon after. Losing the love of her life was tough, but with the help of her children and close friends, Aspasia stayed strong.
25 years later her youngest son Alberto also died of aggressive cancer. “You can’t imagine burying a child. But I knew I had to go. I don’t know how to find power, but I know I have it,” he reveals.
Active: Aspasia produces her amigurumis. Photo: Pedro Kirilos/Estadão
The union of the family helps her in this task. The daughter lives in the same house, the granddaughter in the neighboring house. “I’m a very lucky person, I have a really wonderful family. My kids take care of me, they care about me and it’s important that you feel that way,” he notes. “I feel safe.”
Another trait that helps Dona Aspasia move forward is her personality, which she herself defines as “forward”. “I have a lot of desire to do things. I’m very positive, I don’t whine. For me everything that happens has to happen. In the meantime, keep yourself busy.”
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The occupation was with the amigurumis. Even more so with the pandemic months preventing them from leaving their homes. It wasn’t long before sales were in the hundreds. Today she believes she has sold around 700 units in that time, including sales to Japan, Canada and Portugal.
The work is done in a team. “While I make the amigurumi, my daughter assembles them and my granddaughter distributes them,” he explains.
The quiet afternoons have been traded for hard work and a todo list, but for her, it’s worth the effort. “The feeling of buying something with my own money was liberating. I loved the feeling of looking at something, liking it and buying it. I bought a lot of things, even a fridge,” he emphasizes.
She assures that she wants to continue the work and make her own money while she can. “I don’t think about life or death. I will live as long as God wills. And I try to make the best of it.”