On March, 23rd, 2012 Brazil became poorer, not because the stock market plummeted or the country was downgraded by the rating agencies or because there was a drop in the GDP. None of that happened. It became poorer because its most important artist of the 20th century, Chico Anysio, passed away. Despite the fact that he was very sick, it was still very sad when it finally happened. As his ex-wife, friend and mother of his two youngest children, I was extremely sad and was not capable to write my monthly newsletter.
A month later, we organized a memorial service and mass to celebrate his life in New York and my daughter did the Eulogy, published below:
"As I was thinking about what I would say here today, I asked my mom if I should just come up here and improvise. She told me that to do so would be a terrible idea, and repeated to me an expression that my dad used to say: Improvisation is the shortest path to error. I smiled when she told me this, because it reminded me of how smart my dad was. Anyone who spent even five minutes with him would walk away at least a little bit wiser.
For all the Brazilians , I don’t need to stress the impact that my dad had on an entire country during the sixty years of his career. As for everybody else here who doesn’t speak Portuguese, I’m sorry that you’ll never understand who was Chico Anysio or be able to experience his utter brilliance. My dad created more than 200 characters, each one representing a different personality of the Brazilian melting pot. With his sharp but easy to understand message, he stripped the Brazilian soul and helped the country to better understand itself. Today, however, I don’t want to talk about my dad as the incredible artist that he was – I simply want to talk about him as my father.
When I was younger, my dad and I never got along very well. He was already 63 when I was born, and I felt like he didn’t quite know how to act with me, since I was the only girl of seven children and the youngest. I remember being sad that when we were together, we were often just sitting in silence. But despite those sometimes awkward moments where nothing was said, I know how much he loved me. I know this not because he told he me he loved me, which he did all the time, but because he would tell me I was his Princess and then he would hold my hand and stare at me with this look in his eyes that showed me how much he cared. Now that he’s gone, I won’t miss anything as much as I’ll miss that look that I can picture in my mind as if he were right here in front of me.
There are many things I wish I had said to my dad when I could, but most of all, I regret the opportunities that I had to spend time with him that I missed. When I would spend vacations at his house, I remember so many nights where I would wake up at 2 A.M. to a noise outside of my room, and I would find my dad either sitting at his computer listening to music on YouTube or watching strange sci-fi documentaries in his room as he drifted in and out of his distinctive snore. At the time, I was annoyed that I had been awoken in the middle of the night, but now, I regret not getting out of bed more often and spending those hours with him.
Although I only shared seventeen years of my life with him, I am so grateful that I had that time. I’m glad that he told me so many ridiculously absurd stories that he honestly believed were true – like the time he tried to convince me that McDonald’s made their burgers from mules, or that he personally knew of a Brazilian who had come to New York as a tourist and been drafted in Afghanistan. I’m happy that he taught me how to play Hearts, because it’s a great game and now every time that I play it, I think of him. I’m happy that he got to meet my first real boyfriend, and I’m glad that my dad hated the guy I was so crazy about, because that’s what dads do. I’m also grateful that despite his disapproval, he was there to console me when we broke up. It was a good thing to get advice on love from someone who had been married six times.
The last time I spoke to my dad, before he entered a critical condition and we could no longer speak on the phone, was this past December, on Christmas. We went to the hospital to see him, and he was having one of his last good days. His eyes were shining as sang “Girl from Ipanema” to me and looked at me in that way that showed me he loved me. I’ll always think about that day when I miss him. I’ll remember how he stayed patient and optimistic through every struggle he faced during the past two years when his health was failing him, and how he never stopped believing that he would get better. My dad never took a moment to feel sorry for himself , and constantly tried so hard to hide his pain. He was only concerned with ensuring that everyone around him stayed positive, and that none of us cried over him. He wanted so badly for his family to have faith that eventually he would leave the hospital and return home.
I know that I do now and will always think about my dad everyday. I also accept that some of the most memorable moments of my life are the ones where I’ll miss my dad the most – like prom, my graduation from high school and college, my wedding, and my children’s birthdays. Those are the days when, even though my dad won’t be present physically, he will most certainly be there in my memory and in my heart. Before his passing, I had never been very religious, but now I do have hope that maybe he is in a place less stressful and complicated than the one we’re in, and that wherever he is, he is making all of his peers laugh and giving them all the joy that he gave to an entire country for six decades.
My dad always said, “Nao tenho medo de morrer, tenho pena” – which means “I don’t fear dying, I pity it.” I am so happy that my dad coined that expression, because to me, it represents who he was as a person, a comedian, and a father: fearless.
I just want to say to my dad: Papai, eu te amo tanto e vou sentir saudade pro resto da minha vida. I love you so much".
Victoria de Oliveira Paula