My dad, Paul E. Smith, PhD died at 57, just 12 days before his 58th birthday. I’m now my dad’s age and look back on all that he accomplished in his life. My hero, my mentor, my friend. My Dad. What would I do and say to my dad if I had one more day? Here are a few of my thoughts, penned in a letter to Heaven, addressed to my dad.
I remember most the times that we spent together, just you and me.
Remember the times you gave me piggyback rides on your knees throughout the house because it was fun for me? Boy, did your knees hurt, but you didn’t care.
Remember the time we went deer hunting before the sun came up? Mom packed hot chocolate for me and coffee for you in our metal thermoses. The deer tiptoed underneath the tree stand, we heard the leaves rustle without seeing even one deer.
I remember the times you would take me to work with you and you would give me a job to do, handing out tests packets to your students. It made me feel important and special. I felt confident because you knew I could do it.
I remember the time you picked me up from junior high school because you just found out that your dad had died, murdered at a Houston, Texas gas station at night for $36.00. That was the first time I ever saw you cry.
I remember when I was mad at you because of your divorce with mom and we didn’t talk much for about a year. That’s the lost year of my life I would love to get back.
I forgive you. You did your best and loved us so much that you worked too much, needed to rest a bit and take vacations more. For as much as you loved roses, you rarely took the time to smell them. You were so busy, providing for your family and getting more education.
Forgive me for not being there more when you got sick. I had 2 little children of my own and lived so far away.
I forgive me, too; I must let any grief, sadness and regrets go and know I did my best and you did your best too.
I am thankful for you and I miss you everyday.
I think of you when I see my brothers and my children. I see you in my own quirky tendencies. I remember your desire for knowledge, your love for people, your silly humor that lightened up the room. Your legacy lives on.
You never met your granddaughter, Paris, born 3 days before your birthday. You’re a lot alike. She’s strong-willed, smart, creative, determined, beautiful, kind-hearted, and shy. She has beautiful hands like yours, is fashionable, and likes nicer things. You would really love her and my sons. What would you say to her, to my two sons, Chris and Ryan? Chris has a tender heart, determined spirit and strong mind. He is always looking to be better and do better. He’s married now and they are fighting a rare brain cancer that his wife was just diagnosed with a few months back. She is a fighter, princess warrior, beautiful and strong. We are stronger together and together we are strong takes on a whole new meaning. Chemo and radiation are helping and the tumor is reducing. We are praying for a healing touch from God above. Ryan is passionate about music, writing and videography. He taught himself how to play the guitar and plays in church worship band. He’s a great inspirational writer. He’s dating a ballerina; beautiful inside and out.
In this letter, I also have a few questions. First off, what’s Heaven like and do you remember or think of me and your family that you left behind? Do you know what we’re doing or not doing with our lives? I know you didn’t want to leave but your body just wouldn’t hang on and your mind and soul just wouldn’t let go. It brings me peace and comfort knowing your spirit lives on in Heaven above and someday we will see each other again.
Tell me about your childhood. Tell me about your marriage to mom, your infidelities and weaknesses; strengths, challenges and dreams. What did you value most?
Tell me about your relationship to God and your belief in Jesus Christ, God’s son. What made you decide to become a counselor, Psychologist, Gideon, Sunday school teacher, real estate investor and businessman? What do you wish you had done more of? What do you miss most? What would’ve you done differently? What do you want for me, a divorced mother of a teenage daughter and 2 grown sons on their own? What do you want me to tell each of your sons, now grown men with wives and children of their own? What would you tell Mom, the love of your life and mother of your 4 children?
What would you want most to be remembered for?
God gave you to be my dad and I’m forever grateful for that gift. I still wish I had you here with me, a phone call away, to hold me up when I fall, to wipe away my tears when life gets hard. A dad to be my rock and strong tower that I run to and stand strong on your solid foundation. A dad to be my counselor and my friend, to hug and hold me close to your heart, to never let go.
If I had one more day with you, Dad, we would spend a day at the beach, talking, reading, walking along the shore, swimming in the ocean, picking up seashells, ending with fireworks in the sky and fire pit on the beach roasting marshmallows while sipping coffee mochas, watching shooting stars in the dark sky. I am wishing you were still here with me, I would wish upon a star in the night sky and wish upon a starfish on the ocean floor to have one more day with you, Dad. I love you, forever and always. Family and love live on in our hearts and in heaven into eternity. I remember you. I know in Heaven, we will be known as we were known. I just wonder do you remember and think of me and your family?
Your daughter, Susie
Susie Smith Offenbacker