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.
Beautifully said. I remember playing poker with your dad. He was hysterical, and had a rat pack style of cool. You told me the story about lowering your expectations. It stuck with me, and I still tell that story. Much love to you and the whole family.
Thank you for sharing the priceless legacies
of your Dad most especially his generosity and
kindness. My classmates and I are thankful for
the rare opportunity we were given to share our ‘bonus years’ together in his Shangri-La,
at Stafford, VA.