Words from Greg’s daughter, Emily

Speech for Dad

I didn’t expect I was going to want to say anything, but with so much emotion around Dad’s passing away I decided I would make an effort to say what I’m feeling so I didn’t just come all the way to Canada to be a wallflower.

I can’t memorize things, so I’ve printed it up. I feel bad but I hear dad’s voice saying “Emil! Just do what feels good!”

Also they say you should do one thing every day that scares you…

It’s really touching to hear everyone’s stories and memories about Dad. I really had no idea he was such a talented professional and I guess I never understood how much his adult life differed from his childhood and the way he was brought up.

I guess I knew he had touched so many people because whenever I was out with him, he was always met with smiles and handshakes and hugs, so it would be hard not to notice how adored he was everywhere he went.

The thing that I have to say that might be different from the others is how he was such a good cuddler… a really horrible singer when he put you to bed – he would always sing these 1 or 2 romantic country songs in his out of tune voice – but you could tell he really believed in the song so you didn’t say anything…

And the best back scratcher. I always wanted to flop out across his lap whenever I found him on the couch watching a game… He never kicked me off, he could scratch for hours.

How big his heart was I really don’t know but it seemed to have no limits.

He taught me that criticizing others only really makes us sad, and that being generous and kind are about the most important things in the world.

And he demonstrated that my whole life, caring for people, caring for me, mentioning the good things in everyone we knew.

And I’m lucky enough to be married to a man who resembles Dad in about every way except for appearances. He even dresses a bit like him sometimes, which is a bit embarrassing.

He took Dad’s advice about cutting off the sleeves of his sweatshirts so he could stay warm while he practices (we’re musicians), cutting slits in the ends of his runners so that his toes are comfortable when he jogs, and he shares Dad’s love for Woody Allen, Groucho Marx, and slapstick humour. They talked about politics, religion, environment, and history. Eduardo was a real match for Dad intellectually.

I won’t share all the other embarrassing things they have in common, but I found an Eccentric, to match the one who had brought me up, and I love him all the more for it.

Dad had a private list of the men he thought were ‘real men’. He described them as men who look after others instead of competing to get ahead… Men who are honest, good, moral, and above-average for the way they live their lives. And he told me that when he met Eduardo he flew immediately to the top of his list…

So naturally my son Santi who’s 10 now is a bit like his Grandpa too, and they adored each other.

One of Dad’s favourite things to do with Santi when he was young was to soften him up, throw him down on the couch and karate chop him until he was laughing so hard.

They talked a lot together as equals every time we came to BC or Dad was visiting Portugal. Tennis, DaVinci, fiction, cool animals and science: All things they liked to talk about. I hope Santi got enough good memories to last him his whole life.

The other day Santi started getting nervous about maybe being called a nerd in his new school because he’s crazy about science and doesn’t care about soccer like the other kids.

So he was silent for a second and he said: I think if someone calls me anything I’m going to tell them I prefer the term ‘intellectual bad-ass”. I could only think of Dad…

Dad had a way of filling you up with his spirit and his silliness. I know he’s done that for my guys anyway. They loved him a lot and I know the feeling was mutual.

Anyway, it’s a love story. I can’t imagine there will ever be another man like Dad, but they do seem to pop up in life if you’re looking for them.

Nobody lasts forever and I’ve decided to be grateful he was mine while I had him, thankful for all the talks we had, the jokes we shared, the bad songs he played for me… the invaluable things he’s taught me that make me who I am in the world.

Even though he can never scratch my back again or make popcorn or do his silly phone-off-the-hook dance like when we were kids, he’s always there. He’s in the men in my own family, in my Mom and Jacob and Sara, and it seems like he’s rubbed off on a lot of other people too.

So I’m very grateful for that.