So many questions…Is life worth living? What is a measure of success or a life well lived? What is the point? Who do I love? How will I be remembered? What is my legacy? Who loves me? What is enough?
by John Elliot Oyzon (aka Beau)
Is the world a darker place, now that one of its brightest lights has moved on to the next stage?
Not if I have anything to do with it, because it’s incumbent upon us to shine that much more brightly to honor the man who showed us how.
Elias K. Oyzon was my dad, my hero, and my greatest teacher.
His lessons will always be with me, and his voice will forever ring in my head.
“I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.”
Let me tell you a story. Once, back when he was in the service, he was in a pool hall. He had his quarters up to play next, but some guy just starting racking it up. Dad says, “Hey! Those are my quarters.” The man ignored him. So then dad takes a pool cue and knocks him out by breaking it over his head. What’s the point of that story? Dad was a bad ass. He tempered much in his later years, but these are the actions of a confident man. He tried to instill confidence in us. I was raised with the idea that I could do anything… be anything. Except perhaps very tall. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. I’m actually average height… for a woman… in Malaysia.
How do you instill confidence in a child? You love them. You support them. You encourage them. You never give up on them, ever. [right leecie?] This is not to say he didn’t challenge us, because he did- with things like debate at the dinner table and rising exclamations of disgust when we did very stupid things. [aw, Aw, AW!]
Recently, mom and dad were visiting me in phoenix. Now, me?… I’m so poor I can’t even pay attention, but he said to me, “I’ve got faith in you, son.” That washed over me like magic.
So one way we can pay respects to this man, is to live up to our fullest and richest potential. Pull out all the stops, because there is nothing to wait on. We can also lift up the people around us. Encourage and support those less fortunate than we are. That’s the example I was raised with. I saw him give a bum walking down the road 10 dollars for raking the leaves in our yard. Not just for the money, but to give the man the satisfaction of working for it.
Here are some more:
“Don’t just do something, stand there.”
Or “Do something, even if it’s wrong.”
He once said, “I’m not half the man I used to be.”, to which my sister Elaine, his favorite, replied, “Dad, you never were the man you thought you were.” Maybe true… but his ego was part of his charm. Actually, as he aged, I think he became twice the man he used to be. Wisdom suited him. What he lost in mere physical prowess, he more than made up for with his capacity to show kindness and be totally transparent with his love.
This is because he was always doing something. He was constantly striving to better himself, and learn, even at times from his own children.
One day, Elouise, my oldest sister, perhaps feeling empowered by many a dinner debate, challenged my dad, much to his utter surprise. [if any of this speech sounds familiar, by the way, it’s because I stole a lot of it from my dad.]
She said to him, “Why don’t you ever say I love you.” He replied ,”How can you say I don’t love you. I work three jobs. I provide a roof over your head, food on the table. How can you say I don’t love you?”
“You don’t say the words.” She said.
Chagrined, he heard her. From then on, we became a family that said “I love you”, unabashedly and often.
Those were actually the last words we said to each other, my father and I. Thank you, Weez.
“Study long, study wrong.”
Or “Analysis is paralysis.”
I remember back in my college days. I was stuck in some deep emotional rut. And I told him I was paralyzed for fear of not living up to my own potential. His advice to me: lower your expectations. Not what I expected from the man who taught me to raise the bar so high. But it was perfect advice for me at the time. Have high goals, but work reasonably towards them, one step at a time.
My dad was an active participant in this world. Lesson: If you don’t like something, change it for the better. Not just for you, but for everyone around you.
“Even a blind squirrel stumbles across a nut sometimes.”
I don’t got a story for that, I just like saying it.
Perhaps the point is, don’t trust your life to dumb luck.
Dad always said, “You’ve got to be good to be lucky.”
Was my dad lucky? Very lucky, because he was a very good man. He had the most amazing capacity for generosity I’ve ever seen in a person.
He told me this story once. He was talking about his dad. With tears in his eyes he said he never got one god damned penny from him, and he vowed to be generous to his children, and never have them wanting.
Maybe in the same way his dad taught him generosity, my dad taught me patience and how to be open to other people’s point of view. Who knows mysterious ways in which angels work.
As an aside, I must commend my mom for being a saint all these years. Perhaps the final lesson for you, mom, is how to be happy on your own, but you’re not on your own. Look around you. I’ve got faith in you, mom. I love you very much.
Anyways, back to generosity. From constant quarters to play pac-man at the bowling alley, to a couple hundred dollars here and there to make rent, all the way up to buying an utterly unforgettable ten day cruise for the entire family in the Caribbean. I always knew he had my back. He bailed us all out time and time again. Even on the last day of his life. He asked me if I was okay. I said yes. He pulled into the bank anyways and gave me a wad of cash. I said, “I don’t need it, but I sure do appreciate it.” He must trust that the things he taught us gives us the strength of character and moral fortitude to soldier on in his stead.
He lived life on his own terms.
Why wouldn’t he approach his death in the same manner?
He didn’t do things randomly. If life is a game, then he came in under par. He went out with dignity, clarity, pride, and surrounded by love. Aces pops.
I say the world is not a darker place because, dad, you are alive and well in my heart…
Every time I encourage somebody to be better,
Every time I’m generous to someone who needs it,
And every time I exercise my god given talent for being devastatingly charming.
And also… every time I smile, because my smile is his smile.
So I suggest this weekend we play some poker, drink some whiskey, laugh- a lot, love each other, and cry…
But not a heart-breaking cry of anguish and despair, rather a cry born of a full heart- a heart opening cry of joy and gratitude for having the privilege and honor of sharing in the life of my dad, Elias K. Oyzon.
He facebooked me this morning. He posted that the greens are immaculate, the San Miguel is cold, and the food is salty, fatty and delicious.
So in closing, I submit to you that generosity begets happiness. The proof is in my father’s smile, and if you agree…
As I walk amongst you, let me know by slipping a 50 dollar bill in my right coat pocket. And if you disagree, let me know that too, by slipping a twenty dollar bill in my left coat pocket.
Keep the party stoked up there dad.
We’ll see you in good time.
I love you.
I’m sleeping with mom. She went to bed before me and I left her there. I check to make sure she is still breathing. I’m doing that thing. We all are doing it. I think this may be the longest time she’s been able to sleep in days. I left her there. Get some rest.
I smell coffee and hear the sneeze. Great! Dad’s making the coffee. I hear the shuffling in the kitchen. It’s Curt. It sounded like dad. It’s the dad ritual. Confused.
Aaaand we’re back. Back to this new world where dad isn’t.
I wonder about mom. Her every day is permeated with those sounds. Dad is a habit. Dad is the beginning and end of each day. How long did it take for me to get over the loss of some love? There is some bullshit formula somewhere of x time together divided equals some finite amount of months, years, hours…decades. Fifty two years is a long while to share a home; a lifetime. Time to have seen each of us: me, Joseph, Elice, Elaine, Beau and Ben come into this world, small swaddled bundles; to bury one son; to see the rest through adorablility and awkwardness; watching and helping us navigate through growing, floundering and at time landing safely. And we leave to make our own lives. Mom and dad left as our root and anchor. Our time is theirs. Throw that into the equation.
Still wrapping my head around losing dad; what it means for me? There is loss there.
How tiny that must be compared to the woman who shared so much of her life with him? At some point, we got older – the lot of us. Funny, dad never did. Not in my mind. Always strong and vibrant. That’s why this is a mistake. Maybe that’s why he chose this time to go. He left undimmed. Never frail.
That’s the word that came to mind looking at her sleeping form. There is loss there.
Born on 02/16/1933 to Margaritta Kausin and Proceso Albaran Oyzon departed this life on Monday, December 30,2013
Survivors include his wife, Paraluman Lomy) Oyzon; daughters Elouise Oyzon of Rochester, NY; Elice R Oyzon of Stafford, Va; Elaine Oyzon-Mast of Atlanta, GA; sons, John Elliott Oyzon of Phoenix, AZ and Benjamin E Oyzon of Brooklyn, NY; sons-in-law James McMurtrie; Chakib El Ghazzali; and Curtis Mast. He was wonderfully blessed with seven grandsons, Aidan, Connor and Gabriel McMurtrie, twins Elias Robert and Ethan Arthur and Evan Aurelio “Bootzer” Mast; and Ibrahim “Brahim” Oyzon El Ghazzalli. He was pre-deceased by three older brothers, Salvador, Dominador and Dionisio Oyzon. He has three surviving sisters, Dolores Oyzon Basco, Sister Sally Oyzon, SSC, and Lourdes Oyzon Parugganan. He has various cousins, nephews, and nieces, all claiming to be his favorite, and loved them all.
Elias K Oyzon served in the Army of the United States 25 April 1953-April 1961 and the Department of the Air Force April 1961 to 30 April 1981. He served in the Korean Conflict and the Viet Nam War.
He had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He was an avid golfer; travelled and journalled his thoughts and observations that so endeared him to his listeners and readers.
…END official obituary
Dad had an accent that I didn’t hear, but my friends said was (duh) there. He did put an “e” in front of any word that began with an ess. Estupid.
I would take it as a great thing if you filled out more dad stories in the comments. Much much better way to get a sense of dad’s life than a list of jobs and names and relations.
Leece lives here. She’s been taking care of a lot of the minutinae since it all began.
Benny got home, dumped his bag, repacked it and right back on the train and was here to support mom in mere hours.
The boys and I arrived last night.
Elaine and family arrives in a few hours; (Beau) gets here tomorrow.
So many people are coming from North, South, East and West. Mom…well, all of us, are heartened (that is such a good word…heart ened) by the outpouring of love and support.
We laugh and cry and hug. Repeat.
Watching sympathy and celebration unfold in pictures and stories, in nods of acknowledgement and words of support. It’s mostly love.
All of it really.
Cousins I don’t know. Nephews and nieces. Far flung family. All all all our friends that my parents have welcomed into our home. Family.
This was a message when my Uncle Dam passed away. I am listening to it now.
A single happening can blow out the bottom of the world.
It’s been a glorious Christmas week. This morning we took pictures of the family; huddled together; chained our hands…my brothers and sisters and parents and me, “The Oyzon Family Circle”.The drive from my parents’ place to home is about eight hours. We took long mundane stops. Elaine called as we were pulling into the driveway.
“Has Elice called you? They took dad to the hospital in an ambulance.” Fragmented bits.
She called again ten minutes later to say dad had passed away in his sleep. We were all together this morning. She said it was great week.
It was a great week. He died in his sleep.
And none of this makes sense and I don’t know what to do. I keep thinking it’s some mistake. This is a mistake.
We were all together this morning. My brothers and sisters and mom and dad held hands and we made our Oyzon Family circle. We parted after goodbyes and hugs. Somewhere during our separate journeys, dad passed away in his sleep. Some crazy metaphor this.
That’s what happens when you binge on books and then run on four hours of sleep. Close the door to the office to dampen the sounds of passersby. Roll my sweater into a ball and use my coat as a blanket. I press the small of my back into the concrete floor. It’s cold.
Light headed. Imagining myself a plant. The world is a cracked fading photograph. Fissures in the world where one could just spread your fingers and dig in. Digits become grasping roots and if I just close my eyes and concentrate, I could feel.