I met Raph, the young man that Ed calls his hanai son on a Saturday. I joined them at their favorite haven at the top of Wa’ahila Ridge. This park is maintained by the State of Hawaii and I am impressed on how beautiful it is. No wonder Raph calls it their Holy Ground.
“Aunty, I would like to tell you a story about Ed – my version”, Raph said with eagerness on his voice.
I sat down. “I am all ears”, I answered. I saw Raph being serious so I just smiled and looked at both of them.
Raph said, “here we go…The stars twinkled and danced in the heavens. While sitting on his golden throne, Lord Buddha awoke to a joyful bliss. And the flames of hell abated as much to the Angel of Death taking another vacation. Edward Y. J. Choy was born.”
The journey of Edward Y. J. Choy began in 1949 on the territorial islands of Hawaii. It was a time when traditions were questioned and often broken. The day after high school graduation Ed was on a plane headed to obtain his training in the United States Air Force. His body was still incapacitated from the effects of an all-night intoxicating celebration. He saw visions of torture, pain, mayhem and chaos. He experienced morbid emotions. It was clear in his mind where he was going – WAR.
“Soon Ed was in Cambodia fighting for his life and his country. Dodging enemy fires and avoiding land mines taught him that having a body is a misfortune, yet it is better to be alive than dead. In his half Korean-half Japanese eyes, he saw that war was very ugly. War is a living hell that we ourselves create. War gave him the opportunity to visit wild and exotic places such as Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. A few years later Ed was medically discharged.”
“Ed had a season in his life wandering aimlessly on a motorcycle in the continental United States where he realized an elusive endeavor. He came upon an Indian Reservation and met a remarkable medicine man named “Sky Walk”. Ed also befriended a woman named Rachaell, “Little Bear”. Time went on. He felt homesick so he came back home to Hawaii. As he continued searching for the meaning of life, in 1975 his long quest brought him to the art of Taijiquan which he explored, expounded, cultivated, mastered, disseminated and transcended.”
“At that point Ed accomplished liberating his mind and body. He now had to face the spiritual. In 1985 he received his PhD in Theology. He felt awe. However , being Reverend Edward Yong Ju Choy was not easy; being a minister proved to be a very intricate responsibility. “
Ed interrupted, “okay, now my turn”. And as Ed started his witty sense of humor, he went on,
“I met this young man when he was confused and is at the crossroad of where to go. During our first meeting I told him he has to do the things he does not want to do. I kept asking him all of the questions he never wanted to hear. I told him that if he lie, he is being dishonest to himself not to the other person.”
Ed continued, ”
“I know this young man very well. He and I had made a series of promises to each other. We speak of true friendship. When one of us is sad, we will help each other get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made him sad. When he smiles, I will know he finally got laid or he is up to something devious.”
“I feel true warmth from Raph to me. Besides inheriting my wild imagination, this boy is now repeating some of my habits. I like the way he giggles at my description “smiling egg” when I order breakfast. There are times I feel gloomy for him because he is competing against himself. He has a never ending source of energy. I will be completely happy when I see him focused on what he has in his heart and in his mind. I will be forever praying that he focuses on his purpose in life. I offer to help him as long and as often as he needs my help. He has to find his destiny because God gave him a courageous journey. To you young man, ‘everyone needs a bouncing wall now and then. The only thing you should never do is hold back’.”
It was a hilarious day for me. Raphael Vidad is one of the young people that Ed had shared his ideals, his hopes and aspirations. As I spent more and more time with Ed, I met Chris, a ham radio enthusiast.
Footnote: The contents are from notes provided to me by Sifu Vidad and Rev. Choy dated 1998 to 2013.
We never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. This is a sentence that I hear very often – friends, acquaintances, workshop/seminar speakers – almost everyone that I have met. This had become very true.
My best friend took his last breath in front of me. I have feelings of sadness, anger, abandonment and emptiness. It is not really his fault. He already finished his assignment on earth.
When we were together, he taught me how to laugh. He taught me how to love. We shared solutions to life issues. Yet he did not teach me how to live without him. I decided to take the plunge and start my life without him because he is not coming back.
It has been tough. I am getting there…over time I am starting to find joy in life again – a life beyond loss.
“He satisfies me with good things and makes me young again, like an eagle”. Psalm 103:5
It was around three-thirty in the afternoon Las Vegas time when I woke up. I just checked in to a room at Main Street Station Hotel and Casino seven hours before and fell asleep as soon as I placed my head on the pillow. My flights from King Salmon Island had been very long. It was a three-legged travel – King Salmon Airport to Anchorage then from Anchorage to Seattle and from Seattle to Las Vegas.
The last meal I had was at Anchorage Airport. My tummy wanted food. I went to take a shower and at around four thirty, I went down to the Main Street Station Hotel buffet. When I reached the buffet room, I thank God because there were only 3 people in line ahead of me. I was able to pay my meal in less than five minutes and I went directly to the buffet line and picked up some finger foods. As I have placed the food on my plate, I thought I had enough so I looked around and there an empty table for two very close to the ice cream machine. I took my seat on that table, recited a thank you for the food and started spooning my food when a young gentleman standing in front of me said: “Hi, my name is Brian”.
“Hi Brian nice to meet you. My name is Violet”, I answered I saw him pull the other chair and now sitting across me. He started a conversation with me My tummy’s need was more important than engaging in the conversation. My mouth was always half full with food, chewing and swallowing. I could only manage to say the words “really”,”that is nice”, “Yes”, “Ahha”, with a smile and a nod.
He made a comment that I look Hawaiian. I told him that I am of Filipino ancestry and I reside in Hawaii. I ate all of my first servings. I went for a second serving. He followed me to the buffet line. I realized that I am sharing a table with a young man I did not know. First, I sensed he has admirable qualities. Second, he was generous, in using words, to paint the environment as kind. He is friendly. He is self confident. I started asking him personal questions. I found out he was born in Gardena California, moved to Las Vegas because of financial betterment. He is a tattoo artist. He is 35 years old. He would love to have me as a guest in his workshop to watch him work.
I accepted his invitation and told him that it will have to be 3 or 4 days from that time. I stood up to serve myself an ice cream cone to satisfy my sugar craving. He followed me and started getting me my ice cream. When we went back to the table, he pulled my chair and signaled me to sit. In my mind, God, what is happening here. Bluntly I asked if the table I am sitting on is his table and if I had been a “pain in the butt” by crowding his dinner.
It turned out that he was behind me by the cashier. After he paid for his meal, he wanted to sit at the same table since no one was sitting there. After he got his food, and went to the table I am already sitting there. He did not look for another table because he saw me alone. To him, I would be good company when he saw me bow my head before I started spooning food into my mouth. In reality, it was his table because he saw it first – me being oblivious of my surroundings.
We spent about fifteen more minutes, him telling me to be very careful because Las Vegas has a different breed of people. Before we said goodbye, he asked my permission to take a picture of us using his phone. I agreed. Then he wanted to know if I would permit him to use my phone to take our picture. I told him that there is no need to do that. If he likes he can send me a copy of the picture he took. So I gave him my cell number and the picture is really nice. As we were leaving the buffet room, Brian walking by my left side, my sister showed up by the door and exclaimed, “Brian”, what is going on with you and my sister? You both are smiling and having the time of your life.”
The surprised young man said, “You ladies are sisters? You are Aunty Violet? You told me your name is Violet and you live in Hawaii. I am your …”
“Guardian angel?:, my voice echoed with a question mark.
His voice must have been louder than normal because I heard hands clapping and when I looked around, peoples’ eyes were on us. The young man looked embarrassed.
I told my sister I had this feeling that Brian is cousin Elena’s son when he mentioned the name of the street where he lives. Yet the information I remember about him is in conflict with what he told me. I thought Brian was born in Florida but this Brian told me he was born in California. He looks much older. But then again, he was still a growing boy back in 2005, when I was playing with them.
My nephew Brian and I sharing a table at dinner could have been by chance or an accident. In my heart I believe God did not want me to be alone so He sent me an angel. The meal was awesome. My dinner was complete with sweet smiles from and pleasant conversation with Brian. “I felt like I died and went to heaven”.