Sunday, February 12, 2017

In Memory of Dr. William Wei Hsu

Dr. William Wei Hsu 1937-2017

February 3rd, 2017
Last night at around 8:00 pm, I sat at my desk in my group practice looking at a pile of about 50 patient charts that I needed to finish up. And I was thinking, how in the world was a going to write the closing eulogy for my dad’s funeral taking place tomorrow? Then I looked at my phone and saw that my sister, Serena had sent me a text with a copy of her speech. My sister has always been the better writer in our family and seeing how incredible her eulogy was made me feel proud, but at the same time it made me apprehensive because I knew I would have to follow. Then as I scrolled down my phone, I saw that Serena was trying to help by writing a rough draft of my closing eulogy. If my dad was with me last night, I could imagine his look – frowning down at me for trying to find the easy way out - that was all the encouragement I needed to throw out my sister’s draft and get to work.
Today, this morning on the day of the funeral, I was contemplating about what to say, while driving to a job site to pump and work on a feasibility plan to re-route or replace some septic tanks. It was ironic because when I was a kid, I remember my dad telling me, “You better work hard or you’ll be a garbage man.” I hope Dad would not be disappointed that I proved him wrong. I was working hard … on preparing to oversee and design the project. However technically since I was still working with sewage and garbage, I guess I could be misconstrued as a doctor who on his off days works as a “garbage man.”
My dad’s relationship with me was not one of many words– he didn’t have to say a whole lot to get me going, just a simple look maybe a short statement and that would be enough. My father was a great man backed by an overwhelming number of accomplishments and yet he did not accept his own greatness. To this day I still remember the time he was helping me with my High School AP Physics class homework. He had come back from work late at night, had a small dinner and at around 11:00 PM, he was trying to teach me how to go about solving a complicated physics problem without actually doing the work for me. And I said something to the effect of, “I can’t do it on my own, I’m not smart like you.” Right then and there my dad stopped and looked sternly at me. He then told me that he was not a very smart man, that he had above average intelligence, and was only able to get by in life because he worked hard. Obviously as he said those very words, I looked up at the wall to see his PHD, various Masters degrees and a pile of his patents. My dad had so many awards and patents that there was not enough wall space to hang everything.  I think my dad was right: he was not a “smart man” … he was a genius.
In regards to that physics problem that he helped me with; well a problem similar to that appeared later when I attended college. I was sleeping and snoring obnoxiously loud in a chair during my physics lecture at USC. This particular physics professor had a habit of embarrassing disruptive students. So he threw an eraser at me, to wake me up. The professor then told me to come up to the front and solve an equation on the board. So I got up, strode confidently to the front of the class and in my head I thanked my dad. I took that marker and with no hesitation, I solved that physics problem. When I went to sit down, most of the class was silent with astonishment - except for my friends, who were laughing and trying to high five me – they said something like, “Holy [blank], you are one smart [blank].” I just shook my head in denial and said, “I’m not smart, I just had a genius teacher.”
Fast forward to only a few weeks ago - I still remember when Dad was laying in his bed, fighting against all his ailments with more strength and courage than I could ever imagine, his mantra of telling me to work hard had changed. While by his bed side, he told me to not work as hard as him because life was short. Behind that simple statement, I knew he meant that he wished he could have spent more time with us as family instead of always being out, working so hard to provide for us. In his final days at the hospital, the doctors were amazed that even though Dad looked deceivingly frail, he was incredibly strong and continued to fight, working hard for every breath ... until the very end.
Dad would be extremely uncomfortable with all of us saying wonderful things about him. So, as we say goodbye to my dad, please remember the things we love so much about him. I know in his afterlife, Dad would be standing there with that great big smile and he would be so proud to see so many people who loved and admired him. I love you, Dad, and I’ll miss you more than any words can say.
Xie  xie  Fa Shi  min,  Hui Zhang  Shao Yifu,  Xiao Ai Yi,
gen  Jin Zhong Shehui  da  hui renmen.
Xie xie dajai bang mang , hai you suoyou da qin qi gen pengyou. Xie Xie nimen lai. 
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank everyone for being here today. We appreciate the Buddhist monks, the Amida Society president Uncle Jason Chen and Aunt BT Chen, Amida Society members, our relatives, and friends for spending the time to come out to honor our Dad. Burial services will be held this afternoon after 2:30 PM in my family’s burial grounds, at the Gardens of Contemplation. Thank you again.