Monday, March 11, 2019

Eugene Pereira, Adios Amigo

By: Denis Pereira

A strong bond of friendship is not always about giving and taking or equal sharing, instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something no matter what or when.
Rev. Fr. and friends, I extend our condolences to Maureen, Karl and Tammy, Gavin and Danielle, sister Olive, brothers Vince and Trevor and the apple of Eugene's eye his grandchildren Maya, Nicholas and Elise.

I am Denis Pereira, goanso bhao as our families lived next to each other in Mapuca, Cuncelium, Goa, and our friendship continued through Africa and North America.  For those of you who do not understand the word goanso bhao, it means brother from Goa.  We lived in each other's homes and still do.  My mother was Eugene's godmother and Gavin is my Godson.  Which godchild is better is left to your discretion!  For Maureen, Karl and Gavin to ask me to speak today is a precious and singular honour. 

Today is a difficult day for us all, It is much easier to mourn in silence and take away the worry of being able to get the words out, or even just simply getting the right word out.  I am sure we all appreciate being here together sharing in each other's silence, sharing each moment of thought about Eugene whom we all loved as a husband, father, gr. father, brother and friend.  I am certain of two things - Eugene would want all of us to have happy thoughts of our times spent together, and second, he is here with us very strongly in spirit.

Eugene was the best-dressed individual in his group to the extent even his shorts were neatly pressed as he and his buddies walked to school.  His quietness and naughty smile attracted a lot of attention.  He was known to his close buddies as Poder - baker in English - no rhyme or reason for that. 

A determined young man who at a young age left the comfort of his Nairobi home with a friend Cyril Rebello to join the British Forces and carve a path of his own.  Being small in stature he was turned down but fulfilled his dreams of being in the air by joining Air India.  He lived in Muswell Hill on 50th Church Crescent, London, England.  He was the king of Muswell Hill and became the President of the Goan community who arrived and left from his home, so much so that the Immigration Dept questioned his address.  Clothing was his passion and attracted a lot of attention.  Dressed in 3 pc suits, newspaper under his arms, shoes highly polished by his guests, he would arrive at work and on his way home stop at the pub, an English pass time.  His mother would say he was a gentleman in the rank with no money in the bank.

It was here 48 years ago that Maureen passed the test of washing the dishes, cleaning and cooking, and the rest is history.

Eugene's pursuit for the best for his young family landed him in the land of milk and honey in the 70s and our family friendship was renewed.   Wanting nothing but the best for his family he worked hard and persevered to obtain his CGA. From looking at figures to actually working with figures was a natural transition.  He established himself as an excellent Accountant and offered his services and kept perfect accounts for our Association. 

Family and friends were his joy.  Wanting to be with his friends he made an excuse of craving for Goan Sausage on a bun and made the track to Viva Goa last year in spite of his failing health.  This was the last time he socialized with his school buddies.  The next final journey was to the family get-to-gather in New Market for Thanks Giving.  I am going, this is my family and I want to be with them.  Then began the weekly trips with Maureen to the hospital.
The family values he instilled was evident when he had his first setback, and Gavin who was in University at the time volunteered to take a leave of absence,  - and this is how Gavin relates it:  Eugene would not hear of it and gave him a stern NO & asked him to push forward, and here are is what Gavin has to say:  My dad had a zest for life like no one I ever met.  He cherished all of his friendships over the years.  Dad, I am truly grateful to you for believing in me, teaching me the importance of hard work, compassion and giving to the less fortunate and instilling in me a strong sense of family values and self-confidence.  I hope to continue your legacy by providing the same lessons and experiences to Nicholas and Elise.

Eugene was the life of a party without him wanting to be the centre of attraction.  New Year's Eve saw Eugene in his glory. At the end of one New Years dance after really partying as we did in those good old days, Eugene was leaning on me as I helped him to the car and in his humorous way he said to others as we proceeded - I'm helping Denis as he has gone over his limits".  He kept on calling for Maureen who at the time was vacationing in Goa. 

New Year was a special time for Karl.  Every New Year after the night before had settled down, Eugene would say to Karl "I am proud of you, this is going to be a good year for you.  Maureen and Eugene brought in 2019 at home. Karl, as usual, went to see them as he did every New Year and this is how their interaction took place.  "Karl, this is going to be a big year, I'm going to walk again, take my grandchildren to the park and recover from this illness.  I turned to him and said "dad I am proud of you" - he held my hand, Karl felt the quiet strength, unwavering faith and comfort in the Lord that gave him calm.  He provided unconditional love and support.  We truly feel broken now but take comfort in knowing that you are finally resting in eternal peace.  We will always love you, dad, you will always be in our hearts.

Eugene showed disdain for self-pity, he never lost his energy or optimism or zest for life.  Cancer did not scare him and he maintained that buoyant spirit to the very end, fiercely devoted to his friends and most of all to his family.  Maureen was his pillar and strength. She was his Florence Night in Gale and tended to his every want and need.  He wanted her by his side at all times and she was there with him until he breathed his last.  He was proud of his sons Karl and Gavin and loved his daughters-in-law as much often saying to his boys "how lucky you are to have such loving girls".  I wish he had consulted with me before making that last statement!!  Muriel and I are fortunate to be accepted as part of the family.  The grandkids love us too and call us by our first names "Girlie and Denis", and they share a love-hate relationship with me!  He fought a great battle and wanted to be there to celebrate his 
granddaughter Maya's First Communion and hold his new grandson due in April, but that was not to be as the Lord's prayer says "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".

A verse from poet Sherry Peckhil sums Eugene's message to us and his dear ones.

You can no longer see me but please know that I am there
I am the flower in the garden, I am the wind beneath your hair
The memories that I left behind shall forever be with you.
As for me, I am in heaven now where life will start anew.
                        Adios Amigo, Adios my friend, the road we have travelled has come to an end
                        Your ride to the heavens where your new life begins,
                        Adios Amigo , Adios my friend.

Karl Pereira: My Dad…
For those that may not know me, I am Eugene’s oldest son Karl. Let me start off by thanking each and every one of you for attending Dad’s celebration of life. He would have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and kindness shown to our family during this difficult time. In fact, I can probably hear him saying Wah! at this very moment (it was Dad’s version of WOW), wondering why people would be spending their Saturday here, instead of at home watching Premier League or hearing about Trump’s latest craziness. That’s the kind of man Dad was, never wanted to be a burden on anyone, content to remain out of the spotlight unless it involved a party with good food, friends and of course his favourite Chivas.
Mum recently asked me, what do you think Dad’s legacy will be? After reading all the tributes, stories and countless memories people have shared about Dad from all around the world, I quickly told her that his legacy will be the impression he left on those he touched. His sincerity, thoughtfulness, generosity, quick wit and calm disposition left an indelible mark on everyone he encountered. No matter if it was someone Dad grew up within Kenya, hung out within the pubs in England, went on cottage trips, dart tournament or fishing trips, everyone had nothing but amazing and heartwarming things to say about Dad. What even amazed me were the many comments from our own friends who reminisced about how affectionally they remember Eugene, not just as Gavin and my dad, but as someone they laughed with and shared fun moments. His legacy will live on within Gavin, me, his grandchildren Maya, Nicholas, Elise, our newest addition yet to be born and countless generations to come.
On behalf of the Pereira family, we would like to express our eternal gratitude for the kindness and compassion you all have shown Mum and the rest of our family during this difficult time. Your emails, flowers, cards and tributes display the love and affection you had for Dad, and we are very lucky to have each and every one of you in our lives.
Special thank you to all the doctors, nurses and staff in the oncology department at Credit Valley Hospital. You helped ease Dad’s pain and suffering wherever possible and ensured he was able to maintain a level of dignity and decorum that Dad was accustomed to, no matter the test, transfusion or procedure he had to endure.
Thank you to the staff at Assumption Catholic Cemetery, you helped us get through the difficult process in organizing Dad’s funeral arrangements and are truly appreciative of the kindness shown the family during this difficult time.
Thank you to the Reverend Father Bernard, the choir, readers and pallbearers for making Dad’s service truly a celebration of a great man.
Thank you to Gaurav and the staff at Speranza Banquet Hall, for being so accommodating and gracious with the organization of the reception and days leading up to the event, it has made such a daunting task easier.
Thank you to all those who travelled from near and far to help us celebrate Dad’s life. A special thanks to Dad’s sister Olive and his nephew Gerard who flew in from England and his niece Joanne who came in from Ottawa to pay their respect to Dad and share in today’s ceremony.
We wanted to thank Girlie and Greta for helping to coordinate the food and refreshments for today’s reception. Both expressed their honour in helping Mum prepare for Dad’s celebration and for that we are truly grateful. Special thanks to cousin Bernie for the Samosas and Tammy’s mother Marise for the chutney sandwiches, Dad would have appreciated the Goan touch to his send-off. Many people also reached out to the family expressing their desire to bring something to share in the celebration, so I apologize for not calling out your name but know that we are grateful and so thankful for your generosity.
Thank you to Michelle Coutinho for putting together the tribute board in celebration of Dad. As usual, you did an amazing job, capturing the essence of who my Dad was, so thank you.
On behalf of Dad, Mum, Gav and I, we want to express our gratitude to the to the family and friends who have been there to support Dad and Mum these past few weeks and months, especially those who have provided food, rides to and from appointments, prayers and emotional support.
To Denis, thank you for delivering such a wonderful and heartfelt eulogy. We are so appreciative of all the love and support you and Girlie have provided to our entire family during Dad’s illness and even now after his passing. Whether it was a hot meal or clearing the ice off their driveway or reminiscing about the good old days, you provided that beacon of hope that Dad was able to latch onto, even for a brief moment. Our family’s bond spans generations as far back as I can remember. A. Rosie (your mom) and my granny A. Jessie (Dad’s mum) were the best of friends and that relationship has filtered down through the years, so much so that even now our own kids refer affectionally to you as their third set of grandparents… (well maybe only Girlie). From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
On behalf of Dad, I wanted to thank his siblings, Olive, Vince and Trevor and their families for the support and love they showed to Dad both during his illness as well as the 7 decades of his life. Whether it was his sister helping to raise him and the rest of the family when his own father passed away at an early age, or allowing him to borrow his brother’s bright red bike he received for getting good grades, or a sweet brotherly moments shared in the hallways of the Goan School after being punished by Mr Godo Martin for misbehaving, Dad always spoke with fondness of his siblings and what each one truly meant to him. Whether you called to inquire about his well-being, visited his bedside in the hospital or at their house, or even helped Mum with little tasks like shoveling the driveway or bringing him his favorite food to help get him stronger, it gave Dad unmeasurable comfort that you were by his side to help lift his spirits.
To his grandchildren, Maya, Nicholas and Elise, you gave Papa such happiness and enjoyment. Whether it was reveling in your successes of winning school awards or reading stories about the happy bunny or simply going for walks to the park, Papa’s greatest joy was spending quality time with each one of you. His only regret was not being here for the birth of his fourth grandchild. But we take comfort knowing that this baby, like his other grandchildren will have their very own Guardian Angel. Papa asked me to pass along a message to Maya, Nicholas, Elise and Baby Pereira, even though I may be gone, I will always be by your side. When you see a rainbow in the sky after it rains or feel the warmth of the sun on your face or, that’s me giving you a warm hug and letting you know that Papa is watching over you.
To Gavin and Danielle, even though he didn’t express it often enough, he was extremely grateful for all the love and support you showed him throughout his illness. Caring for him, helping Mum to dress him, cooking food for him, picking up various medical supplies and even helping him to pay his bills, helped remove that burden that Dad always felt he was having Mum shoulder. Gav it goes without saying how proud he was of you. You and Dad shared a very special bond, having travelled to India and England together, sneaking out of work to watch Champions League together, bonding over articles you both used to read and discuss from the Economist and even sharing the same sense of humour. His proudest day aside from Danielle agreeing to marry you, was, of course, the day you got your PH’d. Not even blizzard-like conditions, 40+ cm’s of snow and the city of London shutting down was preventing this man from watching his son defend his thesis and get his Ph’d.
To my wife Tammy, Dad used to always say that you and Danielle were the daughters he never had. Thank you for organizing both the agenda for the viewing and funeral service, putting together all the mass booklets, prayer cards and bookmarks, video slide show and pictures of Dad. Your generosity and good nature reminds me so much of him, because like Dad, you are always willing to put others needs ahead of your own. Some may not know this but it is thanks in large part to Tammy that Dad was able survive for as long as he did. Back in 2016, Dad and Mum were scheduled to fly out to Cambodia and Vietnam on a planned group holiday. Literally two days before they were set to leave, Tammy had spent the night at their place and heard Dad had a terrible cough and chest congestion. Dad, of course, being Dad, said not to worry about it, he’ll get it checked out when he came back. Tammy wanted nothing to do with Dad’s résistance and sent them to the Emergency at Credit Valley. After a series of test, the doctor’s determined that Dad had pneumonia built up in his chest and lungs, so much so that had he taken that flight, we might have lost him back then. During that same hospital stay, the doctors were also able to diagnose leukemia. Tammy, Dad was so appreciative of the time you took to be by his side. He knew that in spite of you being pregnant, you would drop everything for him.
Mum, we cannot thank you enough for the love, commitment and dedication you showed in caring for Dad these past few years. You shouldered the burden for much of Dad’s illness on your own, so much so that Dad worried less about his own illness and showed concern for your well-being. From all the times you bandaged his wounds and massaged his hands and feet, to the times where you had to lift him up from his bed because he was too weak to raise himself up; sitting by his side sometimes for 12 hours straight when he was hospitalized because you feared that he would wake up alone, to even sleeping on the couch by his bedside because he asked you to be close to him.
After 48 years together, I cannot imagine the run of emotions and feelings you may be experiencing but know that we are always here by your side. We made a promise to Dad that we would always be there for you and lift you up as you often did for Dad during the tough times. Dad will take solace in knowing that aside from our own family, Mum has a network of friends near and dear to her that she can lean on for support and comfort.
Lastly to Dad, I will forever be in your debt. Bringing us to Canada, providing Mum, Gavin and I such an amazing life, never wanting for anything. Reading all the tributes and many stories people have shared in the last week about you it makes Gavin and I are so proud to be your sons. These past few months and weeks have been the hardest for me, watching your quality of life deteriorate before my very eyes. You selflessly and quietly endured the pain, knowing full well that anything you did was simply done to prolong your time with the family. Not once during your ordeal did I ever here you complain or question why me. You accepted your diagnosis, placed your faith in whatever God’s plan had in store for you and always wanted to make sure that whatever happens, we were okay. We now know that you are in your final resting place, at peace and comfort with the Lord.
So Tonight after the service, we ask you all to pour yourselves a little glass of Chivas, and raise a toast to our beloved father…Until we meet again.
Thank you.

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