The Eulogy of Edwin Smith -- Eulogy for a Father -- Eulogy by a Daughter
Thank you all for coming today as we say a final farewell to dad. This summer has not been a good one and we have so appreciated all the help so many of you offered – and your calls and visits and prayers and good thoughts… and today, your presence. Thank you.
Erica and I grew up in a home where dad was an almost bigger-than-life character. He spent a few of our growing-up years working overseas – in Columbia and Indonesia, but when he was with us, he was the driving force in the family.
He was always trying to teach us something. I remember going on road trips. The were always way longer than they needed to be. He loved to stop and ‘stretch his legs’ every hour or so or even take a little nap. When we finally got back on the road, he’d point out different make and models of cars and have us guess which cars were on the road. At the time I thought it a pointless skill to have, but have found it to be a nice thing to know later in my life… to observe and take note of one’s surroundings and what’s going on. Then he’d proceed to discuss how the various parts of a vehicle worked. Erica and I know all about the mechanics of alternators, fuel injectors, pistons and all other parts of the modern automobile. Looking back, we can both see that those little lectures were dad’s way of showing affection.
Dad was always funny. There was nothing he liked more than a good joke. He had five grandchildren (Kelsey, Sofia, Kennedy, Cole “Happy”, and Rocco) and he loved to tell them stories. He’d be telling a fascinating story, maybe of something that happened years ago, making it sound like it happened yesterday. Whomever he was telling it to would be on the edge of their seats because of the drama he was weaving. Then, at just the right moment, the punch line would come – it was all a joke… If he was just telling a joke and not a story, you can bet that it was one of his favorite ‘blond’ jokes. He had several that he repeated whenever the occasion called for it.
Because dad was such a jokester, sometimes he didn’t show his affection like most grandfathers. Joking was his way. But I know that something happened to him when it was time to say good-bye to each of his grandkids. He would choke up. He loved you guys so much – he was so proud of you. He loved seeing the people you are becoming… Always hold in your hearts this man who adored you and who love you and, no doubt, prayed for you.
Dad used to tell of his growing up years. He knew hard work. He’d tell of picking cotton under the blistering sun until his fingers bled. He often told the grandkids – and us – that we didn’t really know what hard work was… And I’m pretty sure he was saying he was glad we didn’t.
Dad served in Viet Nam back in the 60’s. He was a Weapons Systems Officer. His job was to sit in the rear seat of a F-4 Phantom and operate the plane’s radar and communications and weapons systems. He always said that his stint with the Marines catapulted his engineering career and was the basis for every position he ever held after that… but that he’d never want to do it again if he had the chance. He told me that the things he saw and did – stories of the war – were things he wanted never to pass his lips. He hated everything about war…
Dad’s engineering mind was always working. He finished his career as a Design Engineer and loved the challenges and the stimulation of the people he worked with. But in his off-hours he was, forever, working on his hobby of doing mathematical equations and worksheets and probability algorithms in an effort to win the lottery. He KNEW that if he could reduce the odds enough, he could win. He spent hours figuring out the less likely combinations. But he never won. The best he could do was to reduce the odds to 1 in 12 million… Not really too bad considering that the odds of randomly winning are 1in 300 milliion.
The same with the stock market. He’d spend hours studying charts and concocting formulas to beat the market. He taught Erica and I all he knew about Put and Call options, how to read stock charts, how to understand Price/Earnings figures… Again, instilling all that knowledge was his way of showing us he loved us. And he truly did… and we adored him.
You could always tell how dad felt about something by how he emphasized one of his favorite words. He had at least a dozen ways of saying the word ‘shit’… How he strung it out or how he emphasized the letters or how loudly he said it was an indication of the level of importance he was giving some issue.
…And his peacock dance. On random occasions dad would do what he called his peacock dance. His arms and legs would thrust out while his head and neck would jerk forward and back. We never got tired of it. Every time he’d do it everyone in the room would be rolling on the floor with laughter. As kids Erica and I would beg him to do it and that tradition carried on to the grandkids. I don’t know how it came to be called the peacock dance. I’ve lived in south Florida for 20 years and have seen hundreds of peacocks and none ever danced like dad.
Dad’s closest friend was Jerry Martino. I think they’ve known one another for over 25 years. They (golfed, went for coffee, travelled?) together. They talked politics and sports and their families. Jerry – Thank you for being such a wonderful friend to dad. Through good times and bad you were there for him. Thank you. I know you’ll miss him as much as the rest of us. Good buddies are hard to find…
And Diane – a girl he’s loved since high school. After he retired he moved up to Little Rock to live with her. Diane – you made dad’s last few years wonderful. Thank you for loving him the way you did…
But I suppose dad actually had an even better friend than either Jerry or Diane… God. He never felt that being in a church building was essential to his relationship with God but his faith was deep. He read his Bible. He prayed. He lived by the Golden Rule and the Commandments. He loved the old hymns of the church… He loved God… and because of his faith, we are assured that he is with God today. I hope God loves a funny story.
Sophia and I flew out to be with dad on Labor Day weekend. We didn’t know at the time that would be his last good weekend. We watched a favorite movie, we talked, we shared his favorite “Whataburger” meal. I surprised him the morning we left with Shipley’s doughnuts… It was a precious time. Even more so now, looking back on it…
Dad, you have been such a central part of so many of our lives. You have given us joy over and over again. We have laughed with you and cried with you and always loved you… and now we will forever. --------------
Eulogy for a father... Eulogy by a daughter
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