Remembering a Great Man

Adapted from my post on the Keith & Keith Funeral Home page

Richard Smith was very celebrated man: born on New Year’s Eve, the whole world celebrated his birthday with him every year, he liked to joke.

He was a veteran of the Navy and a successful lawyer who loved his wife Pat and his family with all of this heart. This past Fourth of July, he passed away. He was my grandfather.

Dick was brilliant, kind, generous and happy. He was also the only grandfather that I ever knew, since both of my biological ones died before my birth. And what a good grandpa he was! Although we were his step-granddaughters and he only knew us from our teenage years on, he always treated my sister Anya and I with great love and respect. He and Pat always made sure that we were included – that we were part of the family.

I will never forget the vacations and holidays that we spent together in Long Beach and Yakima. There are so many fond memories from those times – moments that brought our new family together.  There were trying moments too – and tears sometimes. It’s not always easy to form a cohesive family unit in the aftermath of two divorces. But we made it work, and Dick’s kindness and hospitality made a huge difference.

Of all of the memories, there is one night that I especially hold in my heart right now. It was Christmastime, and all of my siblings and I were sitting in Dick and Pat’s living room (which was beautifully decorated for the holidays, of course). From his wheelchair, Dick read us a number of solemn yet hauntingly beautiful cowboy poems. As he read, he lit up, and I was entranced. I will miss his laugh and kind eyes – but I’ll never forget them if I merely recall this moment.

Just four days before his passing, Dick renewed his wedding vows to his beloved wife of 65 years. The beauty of the long life that they shared together is overwhelming. I can only hope to have the strength and patience to find a love equally as wonderful and lasting.

I feel like it’s taken me a few days to fully grasp that he is not with us anymore. I feel sad, and yet happy and hopeful on the other hand – because he lived such a long, rich and meaningful life. That is something truly spectacular that many people aren’t lucky enough to have.

I’m sending all of my love to my wonderful step-family and hoping that time will ease the grief.

Dick will never be forgotten – and he will always be loved. I’d like to think that all of those fireworks last Thursday were actually set off in salute of his amazing life.

Read Dick’s obituary in the Yakima Herald.