Summary: This is the eulogy I did for my father. He had 9 kids by 4 mothers. We had very different views of our father. He became a Christian later in life. This message attempts to bring healing and hope to all 9 of us.
Eulogy James Smith 10/30/2018
There were a lot of important things going on in 1939. The United States was hosting the World Fair. Hitler was making plans to invade Poland. Russia was planning to invade Finland, and most of the World was about to break out in World War II.
But for many of us here today, the most important thing that happened in 1939 was the birth of a little black boy in Dublin, Ga by the name of James Smith. You see without that birth, many of us, our kids, and out grandkids would all be erased from the pages of history. Our wives and our husbands would have had completely different spouses and undoubtedly different lives.
My name is Rick, and I am the oldest of the children of James, Jimmy, Smith. Our father was a very interesting character. He was a man often times of a few words. He was man who could be stubborn at times. He was a man who loved to fish and to hunt. He enjoyed the horses and the dog races.
He was a man with nine children with very different memories of their father. Some of us remember him as the father who was always there, some of us remember him as the father, who periodically stopped by to visit but was mostly absent from our lives as kids, and some of us wondered if he cared about us at all. Yet his story is a story of redemption, of grace and of forgiveness.
There was a song made famous by Frank Sinatra, I did it my way. In the song there were some lines that said, “Regrets, I had a few, but then again to few to mention” and then he talks about he went through life and did it his way. There is a verse in the bible that says, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but at the end of it is death.”
Our father took a path that seemed right to him at the time as a young man. But as he traveled it, he began to regret some of the decisions that he made in life, especially concerning his children.
I remember seeing our father, when I was 7 and when I was 12 and neither visit lasted my more than 15 minutes. I found out I had brothers and sisters on my father’s side when I was about 11 at Jackson Chapel Easter Egg Hunt. I was drawn to this little girl who seemed like a little sister. Her name was Angela. Somehow the topic came up, about our fathers. She told me her father’s name was James Smith. I told her that was my father’s name. It turned it, it was the same man. It’s amazing how life turns out. My oldest brother on my Mom’s side became a best friend of my bother Fat Daddy as they called him then.
When I was in college, somehow I found out that my father lived less than 100 miles away from my college. I wrote to him and he wrote back. He came to visit me once at college and after that visit we lost touched. I had become a Christian and was preparing for ministry in seminary. I met Toby at seminary, and that summer at the end of our first year, we had to drive 698 miles from Boston to Canton OH.
It was a Saturday at around 6pm that our car’s engine suddenly died on us. We barely had enough money to make it to OH. When the car died it stopped. I looked up and saw a sign that said Schenectady NY. This was before the days of cell phones. We had noonne to call for help.
I told Toby, years ago my father, use to live in Schenectady. Now Schenectady is a pretty good size city, and there were plenty of J Smiths in the phone. I told her, I remember writing him on strong street. Sure enough there was a J Smith in that thick phone book on Strong Street. You can’t tell me, that God wasn’t at work in this crisis.
I called the number, our father answered and he came to our rescue. It was then we first met Gloria and her mom. They were all wonderful to us. I knew then there was something special about Gloria and that God would use her to bring us all together. It was a number of years later, that Gloria got us all together with our father for the first time at her wedding.
My father and I began building a relationship over the years through phone calls, mail and a couple of visits. One of the highlights of my life was when Dad and Jeff came to Cleveland for a weekend. I had put together these questions that we took turn answering to discover about each other’s lives.