William Herbert Smith, Jr. | September 9, 1946 - October 31, 2006
The loss of my father has been painful in a way words cannot describe, yet also strangely reaffirming because it has made me ever more aware of the rewards of our wonderful relationship.
It has been said that the loss of a parent is one of life's most traumatic events. I now know the devastating truth of that statement. I've been told that, in time, the hurt will fade, only to be replaced by positive memories that soothe the soul. I know that day will soon come…not just for me, but for all of us gathered here.
My father and I had a simple and loving relationship. He was the man I admired most; a man who had integrity, a man who knew the meaning of a hard day’s work. My father was a man who fought his demons and won. A faithful and loving husband. A dedicated, loving and protective father. And the best Papa any child could ask for. He was a remarkably good man.
He and my mother had a love many of us can only dream of. My father loved my mother with all of his heart, and made sure she knew it every day. They remained true to one another, in love with one another, and never let the difficult times in life separate them. Theirs is a love that will continue in another realm. I’m grateful for that love they shared, as it has taught me that true love exists, and can continue to exist even after death.
When my father learned, 8 years ago, that he had cancer, he decided to do everything he ever wanted. He and my mother traveled. They went to Hawaii, the Bahamas, Florida, The Carolinas and on cruises. He didn’t give up the things he loved – he enjoyed them even more. When his first grandchild was born on his birthday in 2002, he had a new love, one he embraced like no other. My father was an incredible grandfather. He and Madeline created traditions that will continue on – toast and milk in bed, tending to the birdfeeders and balloons in the sky on their birthday. Papa loved his grandchildren, and will be the guardian angel he was here on earth, only now watching Madeline, Jack and his newest grandchild from up above in heaven.
My father has always been a fighter. At no other time was this statement more true than in the last year of his life. When he was told last October that his cancer had returned, he decided he was going to do all he could to beat it. Despite the numerous surgeries, radiation treatments and chemotherapy sessions which left him tired and weak, he never complained. Not once! He never once said “why me?”. When the cancer continued to reoccur, my father would simply tell us “We’ll just keep doing this until we get it right.” We all became fighters on his behalf. And while people may think the cancer won this battle, know that it did not. For it did not take my father’s spirit. It did not rob him of his will. It did not touch his soul.
The lessons my father taught me will last a lifetime. And I encourage all of you to look at my father’s glorious life and adopt a bit of his spirit, his love of family and friends, his refusal to give up.
I found a poem which I’d like to leave you with. A poem that I feel says exactly what my father would want us to do.