E.F. was my grandfather, and he passed away of Alzheimer's on July 31, 2009. He was the greatest man I've ever known.
E.F. Smith, Jr., possessed every quality that is admirable in a human being. I feel not only lucky and privileged to have had him for my grandfather for 42 years, but honored to have known him at all.
When I was a little girl, I thought he was a hero because he wasn't like other adults. He was a prankster, with a constant glint of mischief in his eyes. He would get on his hands and knees and let us grandkids ride around on him for hours. When you asked if he preferred chocolate or vanilla ice cream, he would answer, "Yes." If you asked for a second helping of peas at the dinner table, he would spoon out one pea and place it on your plate, then continue eating nonchalantly.
He had an invisible "squirrel" that he insisted lived in the breast pocket of his shirt, and he would even drop crumbs of food in there, and act chagrined that I couldn't see the squirrel. Later, when they lived in Granbury, he had a real squirrel he named Sammy, who befriended him and would come all the way into the house to sit on the arm of his recliner and eat pecans right out of his hand. I liked to think I was finally worthy enough to see the squirrel that lived in Grandad's pocket.
When I was older, and began to see him as a person outside his identity as my grandfather, I thought he was a hero because of the way my mother, his daughter, looked up to him; and the way my dad respected him. Smitty commanded respect from everyone - and not because he demanded it in any way, but because once you got to know him, his strength of character was evident, his moral core, his honesty, his compassion and humanity. He had integrity in abundance, yet he was not at all judgmental or intolerant. He loved every member of his family completely unconditionally; when you made mistakes or messed up, right when you feared you might disappoint him, he was always quick to show that his love and support never wavered and that he was still proud of you.
Above all, this was what I felt from my grandfather: love and pride. He told me all the time how proud he was of me, and I know he told every one of the grandkids and great-grandkids all the time as well. His pride was greater than all the world's acclaim.
As an adult, when I began learning more of the details of his earlier life and service in World War II - landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, being taken Prisoner of War. I thought he was a hero because of these feats. But the truth is, he was a hero because of the way he loved his wife, treated his family, upheld his duty and lived his faith. And mostly, because he did all of these things as if they were not remarkable. I think above all, Smitty would say that he was just an average man - but for those of us who knew and loved him, we know he was extraordinary.
E.F. Smith, Jr. was a hero not because of anything he did, but because of everything he was. He will be missed; but he was well loved, and will be well remembered.
Submitted by Anonymous
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