Charles Urban Smith (my DAD / Tim Smith) was born on July 9, 1925. He had a difficult childhood. When he was a young boy his father committed suicide and his Mother died a few years later from a prolonged illness. When he was 16 he ran off to join the Navy and fight in World War 2. He wasn’t old enough to join so he faked his Aunt’s signature on the paperwork allowing him permission to join.
He later went to work for The Washington Gas Light Company, married and had three children. The youngest one, a boy, was born with a disability. He was the best father a boy could ask for. He was always home with his family when he wasn’t working or at church. Always had time for his children. When I was sick he was there. When I was sad he was there. When I had a nightmare he was there. No matter how horrible I felt from being teased or bullied my Dad was always there and I knew everything was going to be okay.
One thing I noticed at a young age is that everyone I met liked my Dad. They would always have good things to say about him. How he helped them do this or that. I didn’t know how he found the time because he was always with us. I remember him taking us bowling once and a group of down syndrome kids came in and bowled right next to us. My Dad talked to them and the adults they were with like they were family. No matter where he went he treated everyone he met with respect.
I never heard him say anything negative about anyone. Except some family members who had screwed him out of some money years earlier. He had high morals, ethics, and was a very religious person. God and family were his top two priorities.
In the spring of 1976 he became ill and passed away on December 6, 1976 from what would later be diagnosed as pancreatic cancer.
I learned more about my father in the week after he died then I did in all the years he was alive. His funeral was at Cunninghams funeral home in Alexandria, Virginia. The owners had known my Dad’s family since he was a boy and spoke very highly of him. I wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth or telling us what we wanted to hear.
There was to be two days of viewing before the funeral. Because there were two or three other funerals ahead of my Dad’s the casket would be kept in a viewing area where friends and family could view it and talk. On the day of the funeral the casket would be moved to the chapel. I don’t remember when or exactly how it happend, but at some point during the first day of viewing my Dad’s casket was moved to the Chapel. The viewing area couldn’t hold all of the people. Apparently another funeral party complained because they were there first and thought they should have gotten the chapel. The funeral director told my Mom he wouldn’t have done it for anyone except my Dad. I guess he really did like my Dad.
On the day of my fathers funeral there wasn’t a seat to be had or a place to stand in the chapel. It was packed to capacity. I coupld tell by the look on my Mothers face that she was as shocked as I was. After the funeral people told us different stories about my Dad and how he had helped them. One lady barely knew him. She said she was having a problem with the Gas company and my Dad came out and solved her problem within minutes. A problem others at the Gas Company had worked on for days. She read his obituary in the paper and wanted to come and pay her respects. I saw my Dad in a very differnt light that day. For the first time in my young life I knew what it felt like to be proud of my father.
What good thats in me came from my Dad. Without the love, guidance, support, and compassion he showed me in my first thirteen years I would never have been able to create and run the Many Faces of Moebius Syndrome. Love you Dad. Happy Moebius Syndrome Holiday Hero Day. You deserve it.