Page 1 of An Amazon Affair

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My father was bornupriver from Manaus, Brazil.

I was born fifty-two years later in New York City.

That tells you a lot about our relationship, doesn’t it? My father was old when he got into the parenthood game. He’d lived in the United States for more than half his life at that point and had built a lingerie business that had made him a millionaire.

My parents met at a corporate retreat in Los Angeles.

My mother was a nineteen-year-old actress-wannabe from a tiny town in Texas, modeling my father’s newest line of underwear.

I arrived nine and a half months later.

Against all odds, they actually made it work, my very young, naive mother and much older, wiser, wealthier father. Living in a penthouse apartment in Manhattan with their daughter, they were happy. They loved each other and me. They had everything.

Until my dad got cancer.

And cancer is one ugly, merciless son-of-a-bitch.

It ate my father from the inside out in ten months, despite the best treatment money could buy. It stole his vitality and light. It robbed him of many more happy years with me and my mom.

On his death bed, he surprised me by speaking of Brazil, a place he’d barely mentioned during the entire course of my life.

“Yara,” he said, his voice raspy and weak, “I never got to take you home.”

“Wearehome, Daddy,” I’d told him through sobs, glancing around the bedroom my mother had lovingly renovated to accommodate a hospital bed and several medical machines. “We’re home right now.”

“No,minha anjinha,” he whispered, trying to squeeze my hand with his waning strength. “Para minha terra natal, querida. Eu gostaria de ter te leva do para Manaus...”

“I don’t...I don’t understand. I—”

“...só uma vez.”

“Daddy, I—I don’t speak Portuguese,” I’d murmured through tears. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

“Promise me...” His voice drifted away into a sigh.

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