Margarida Pinto Correia: The long way to Tipperary
Nothing better in a person with grace, than the subtle way to make jokes or caustic statements as if they were saying the most normal thing in the world. As if it weren't important. A sense of humour is in fact one of the most fascinating things in a men. Even more so in a man from whom you don't expect it! Tears, yes. From a brilliant and extraordinary Professor one expects great tirades, profound teachings, proposals to change an entire society, civil matters of the most enlightened nature. What you don't expect are sarcastic jokes, subtle provocations and loud laughter.
Our father was all that.
In the car or in a group, on holidays or in OUR moments, he would start singing it's a long way to Tipperary as if it were something serious and diligent. He sang terribly and loved music. He danced terribly and moved with an enviable swing. So he made fun of that - not of himself: with us. He would provoke us by singing. And we, four girls in the backseat, would go oh dad, nooooo. So he would start singing Cat Stevens to provoke Clara, he would ask Rosario if the Beatles were gangsters, and he would provoke my mother as an Edit Piaf with a terrible French accent. We were bristly horrified. Loving each moment. It was our "thing". It happened because he was there and that was the most precious thing in the world.
He was almost never there, he would study during movie intervals (he loved to go to the Marx brothers with the family), study at the beach, and spend Sundays studying in his office. I had the privilege of taking him his afternoon tea, and the delight of walking into that smell of pipe tobacco, those symphonies that cradled him and the operas that embraced him, recommended by his great friend Sidónio (Paes).
It was his kingdom and sometimes we were allowed in.
But at the same time...
But at the same time, the scientific world surrendered to his vision and knowledge, while his students suffered with him, colleagues created with him and the civil society advanced with him, he made time: annual holidays made up for the whole year for the richness of the experience, and the memories are still alive 30 years later. The family's private jokes are still set on those days. Easter holidays in Portugal, discovering the country... maybe they were just long weekends, some days, but they always seemed to me to be many and good. Till this day.
He was an explorer at heart and because of that he was open to everything new, to more, to the alternative that could give us other worlds. Fan of delving into other practices, he believed that Knowledge was our trampoline for life, that we could never slow it down. Good grades? You did no more than your duty!, and the demand was final. Relentless. And human, said with a strong hug, a sincere smile and an unmistakable voice. Over the years, I ran into many of his people: colleagues, students, patients. His friends had always loved him. Like everyone else. Even his political and academic enemies, furious students, want to praise him today. Because he touched everyone he came across, because he left a trace, because he showed us that it is possible to be demanding, upright, sagacious, funny, and have overflowing humanity.
Professor João Salgueiro told me that when they founded SEDES in the Marcelist Spring, together since JUC, they all decided that the Professor (that what we called him at home) would be the first member. Because he was the most diplomatic, the most "civil", the non-partisan who could, in that difficult period, keep the flame alive without the association losing its political independence. Till this day.
I had already written it, and I insist: it is difficult to live up to his name.
Margarida Pinto Correia