RIP Richard Christopher Smith, 7/24/1942 - 7/15/2011
About an hour ago, surrounded by his wife of nearly fifty years, and two of his oldest and dearest friends, my father's prayers to Mary mother of Christ were finally answered, and he was liberated from his diseased body, and taken to his eternal rest.
A loving man his entire life, he grew up on the magical motto: Of all things immortal, courage is the greatest." He dropped out of college to join the Army in the 10ist Airborne, and did his duty in the Vietnam War. He returned to the United States after the war, working multiple jobs to put himself and his wife through college, later fulfilling his dream of becoming a teacher.
When he was 35, his wife, my mother, gave birth to me. He loved his son fiercely, able to play and smile as well as teach and guide. It was his tales of the dreaded Foofeifengleifus where I learned my own love of storytelling and laughter, just as he had learned it from his father. Always a proud father, he taught his son to be independent in thought and in action, and to always continue striving for greater things.
At the age of fifty, his physical condition forced him to retire from teaching. He spent his days accumulating the necessary points to become a Life Master of Bridge, fulfilling an old dream and joy from his youth, and taking care of his little brother, whose affliction was much greater. At no point in the last nineteen years of my father's life did I once hear a word of complaint or self-pity about his situation. When asked, he would simply remark that his case was mild, and that there were children dying or permanently immobilized by the same disease, and that he had no right to feel self-pity in such a blessed life.
It is difficult to imagine someone with such a terrible disease as being brave, much less being a hero. All my life, my dad fought with everything he could, right up until his last breath, to honor the things he held sacred, and to give what he could to those he loved.
I am proud to be his son.