Jose Miguel Oxholm
Written by: Maria Luisa Oxholm, August 28, 2004
This was written three years ago by my sister - recalling our father - José M. Oxholm. We all look back and smile.
Throughout his life my father was a good son, a faithful and loving husband, a proud father and grandfather and loyal friend. I want to take a few moments to reflect on some of the highlights of his life and also some fun memories of my dad José Miguel Oxholm.
One of our favorite stories that my dad shared was about his father-my grandfather Papa Tino. Papa Tino was quite a character. My dad told us about how Papa Tino would on occasion catch a bat, open its mouth and have it smoke a cigarette. It would not be a surprise then that at the age of 5 Dad was introduced to cigars and whiskey. One day he had cigars, whiskey and some chicken. It resulted in his getting sick. From that day forward he refused to eat chicken saying that he was allergic to chicken. Of course, the illness was attributed to the chicken, not the cigars and whiskey. Most of us in the family know that in fact he was not allergic to chicken as his daughters and daughter in law on occasion cooked with chicken broth or mistakenly gave him a chicken taco that he mistook for pork. As a footnote, I must mention that he was never known to again take cigars or whiskey either.
We all know how creative Dad was. He authored hundreds of poems and published scores of books. His work was published throughout the world. His books of poetry repeatedly received high praise. His command of the Spanish language was masterful and artistic. Although I didn't think so growing up, I came to realize that my father was a man of extraordinary intelligence and wisdom.
I think that one of our fondest memories will be the newspaper that my father dreamed up - Days of Milk and Honey. We will always remember my father and mother patiently helping us write letters to famous people and then excitedly awaiting the responses in the mail. Later, we worked together in our basement to typeset and print our paper on our own printing press. My Dad was always interested in famous people in the news and loved to watch CNN every day. So when the National Enquirer published an article on our family we thought it was cool. "Mom, didn't they put our story under one about the space aliens?"
Our Dad was the best father. He worked hard to make sure his children were successful in life. Like all good fathers, he disciplined his children when it was necessary. We knew we had better run for cover if we saw his tongue begin to curl. That meant he was mad. If we were at the dinner table and there were any spoons in sight, we would run twice as fast. He was a firm disciplinarian but there was no doubt that he loved us and always protected us fiercely.
Our mom and dad had a wonderful 42 year marriage. They had a story book romance from the very beginning. Many of you know that my parents wrote to one another for six months before they met in person. My mom always said that just from my Dad's letters she knew that she loved him. The only question that remained was - did she like him? We all know the answer to that one. They were best friends and supported one another throughout the marriage. He loved that way my mom created the art work for his books of poetry.
The only time I though the marriage could be in jeopardy was on the day of Victor's (grandson) baptism when mom left the water running in the sink while we went to church. It overflowed the kitchen sink, went through the kitchen floor and flooded half of the basement, including some of Dad's correspondence. We were all hungry after that massive clean up job. But then again there was the time that mom almost got us arrested at the Mexican border when the customs officials thought we were smuggling a ham into the United States.
One of the best and most successful projects was their farm in Albion. My parents took a bare 40 acre parcel of land and turned it into their own paradise. It became a magical place created from their heart. Family and friends, especially the grandchildren, love to play in the secret garden, climb the hundreds of trees they planted and pick and eat blueberries and ride Papa's tractor.
My Dad loved to invite guests to his home, always for lunch and dinner. He also invited guests that for days, a week or in one case a few too many months. And I can't forget the time my father invited a poet from Uruguay for a time when he and my mom were our of town. The poet and his wife ended up staying at my house for a couple of days until my parents got back in town. Dad was always trying to broaden my horizons.
Everyone knew about the good and plentiful food that my parents regularly served us and our friends - arroz con maiz, Dad's famous ribs and pastels. But what some of you might not know is that when we were growing up, my Dad's favorite midnight snack was a Mama Mia's pepperoni and cheese pizza. The only thing that would have been more enjoyable was if he could eat the pizza, while watching the TV show Sopranos.
My Dad was always impeccably dressed and well groomed. He liked nice suits and shoes and colorful ties. Most of the time he had a matching handkerchief in his front pocket too. He expected to be attired the same way after his death until Teresa (our sister) informed him that she thought he should rest in peace and relax after his death in a T-shirt, shorts, tube socks and a head band. The rest of us think this is probably why he wanted a closed casket.
As I mentioned, my father was a writer. His preferred method of communication was letter writing with perfect penmanship, something we attribute to Mama Magui his mother and our grandmother. Not a day went by that he had didn't write a card or letter to friend. Not a day went by without receiving a letter or book of poetry from a friend or poet from another part of the world. I know many of you are the recipients of my father�s letters. If you were a family member or good friend and he thought you needed extra guidance, you could expect a special letter with his words of wisdom and advice. If there was a gross breach of etiquette you could also expect one of those letters. One family member compared him to the newspaper columnist Miss Manners, with a mustache.
My father was blessed with good friends because he knew how to be a good friend. Whenever there was a family member, friend or person in the community in need my father was ready, willing and able to help. He never hesitated to share his time, talent and financial resources with others. About the only thing Dad would not do for a friend is attend the Republican National Convention. I never thought of my Dad as being very religious, even though he attended church on a regularly. But I was wrong. His poems clearly reflect a strong relationship with God. His life was richly blessed by God even to his death.
Let me share this observation made in 1995 by the poet Juan Cervera of Mexico regarding my father. "This poet that loves life and confidently awaits death is a man of faith."
My father wrote: Tras la noche comienza la mañana. After the darkness comes morning.