About My Dad

I’m finally ready to tell you about my dad, Lee Smyres. He was 65 when he died, but everyone said he looked 10 years younger. He grew up on a farm in Kansas. Even though he was a practicing CPA, he was on the farm at heart.

He was loving and kind. He always saw the good in people, often to the point of not seeing anyone’s faults. He was always ready to help anyone. He’d give the shirt off his back, and then some, to anyone. I know people tend to exaggerate this sort of thing when someone dies. In his case it’s true.

He wore glasses like the ones in this picture my entire life; up until a few years ago when his optician couldn’t replace the frames.

He loved sweets. Candy, cookies, cake — it didn’t matter. He often had chocolate in the corners of his mouth. One year he ate a five pound box of candy between Christmas and New Year’s. Really.

When I cooked or baked, he cleaned up the kitchen. If I burned the cookies (which was often), he’d patiently stand at the sink, scraping the black off the bottom of every cookie. I’m sure it was as much about making me feel better as it was about eating the cookie.

He worked hard. Hart’s and my first house in Phoenix was built on the road of old farmland. My dad came over with a pick axe and broke up the hard soil. He was 57 at the time. That’s just one example of many, though. He was always at work on many projects simultaneously.

He was devoted to his church, serving on countless committees, volunteering for whatever needed to be done, cooking huge meals along with my mom, singing in the choir. If he wasn’t at home or work, he was doing at the church.

He loved to watch sports. He’d sit in the corner of the L-shaped sofa. His legs stretched out on one end and a pile of newspapers on the other side. He was so laid back that my sister’s friends thought he was on drugs.

He was always forgetting things, often driving away with his coffee cup or cell phone on his truck’s bumper.

My parents taught the three-year-old Sunday School class for almost 20 years. He spent many Saturday nights in front of the TV, cutting out parts of craft projects.

He loved to exercise. When I was young, his obsession was the NordicTrack. The Bowflex was the miracle exercise machine for about the last 10 years. He thought the Bowflex could do anything. All spring, he talked about getting back on the Bowflex, knowing he would feel better if he could just build up his muscles again.

He was proud of me and thought I could do anything. He got it in his head that I was going to write a book. When I was with him at the hospital in July, he asked several times how my book was coming. (I’m now starting to work on a novel.)

I miss him. It hurts more than I can possibly describe. But as far as grief goes, I have it pretty good. After he started getting sick two years ago, I’d sit next to him on the couch when I’d visit. He’d put his arm around me and tell me how much he loved me.

I’m the only person who could out-stubborn him and we butted heads a lot. But I know he forgave me for anything I’ve done to hurt him. I got to spend a lot of time with him in the last couple years and we laughed much of that time. I don’t have to wrestle with regret or what ifs. I just have to learn to live without him.

When he got out of the hospital he wanted three things. To volunteer at the church, sing in the choir again, and get a new truck. He only wanted more of what he already had. What a beautiful testament to how he lived his life.

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16 Responses to “About My Dad”

  1. Diana Lee Says:

    Thank you for sharing your dad with us, Kerrie.

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    How cool that your dad grew up in Kansas! That’s where I live, born and raised.

  2. Nikki Says:

    this is a beautiful tribute to your father. it sounds like he was an amazing guy, and it’s great that you had him in your life. i also think it’s great that you are remembering all the good times with him.

    my biggest fear is losing a parent, and you seem to be handling it very well. i can’t imagine what you’re feeling. thank you for sharing this small look into life with your dad, along with everything else you share with us here.

  3. Christina Says:

    Kerrie, what an inspiring and loving tribute to your dad. No doubt he would have been proud of you for writing this, and proud of you for the incredible person you are. Everyone should be so lucky to have a daughter like you, and to have had the love your dad had in his life. I’m so glad you wrote this.

  4. Carolyn Says:

    Dear Kerrie,
    Thank you for this very loving posting about your dad. It was heartwarming to read about what a special and wonderful person he was. The first thing I thought, when I saw it, was that you share his smile and then later, other traits; love of sports, his work ethic, and caring for others. When I lost my mom I missed her for longer than I would have imagined. I hope that you can find comfort from those closest to you and in the memories of the happy times you had with your dad. Thank you for sharing. Carolyn

  5. Kendall Says:

    Beautiful tribute. I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face, and I was crying anyway, for Obama’s grandmother. He got it into his head that you were going to write a book? You are. Whatever happens with your novel, these blogs are literary, well-crafted, honest, and rich in images, language, and emotion. They’re a book. I have gotten it in my head that you’re writing TWO books, and if the novel is anything as well-written as the blogs, you’re a winner. Thank you for bringing this man into my imagination.

  6. Paula Says:

    I know your dad would be very pleased and touched by what you have written. How wonderful to have such a great dad.

  7. Shortone Says:

    Kerrie,

    That is a beautiful and touching tribute to your dad.

  8. Julie Says:

    How beautiful! I am crying reading about your father. What an honor to know him a little through your writing.

  9. pete Says:

    Your dad was a great guy. He was lucky to have a loving daughter. It’s amazing the impact our parents have on our lives. When they leave us that becomes even more evident. They do live on through us though, just as we will through the loved ones that we precede in death. One good story leads to another. Thank-you for yours.

  10. Katie Burke Says:

    Kerrie. I love this. And you’ve made me love your dad, without ever having met him.

    I am so happy that you have no regrets. The special relationship between you and your dad really comes through in this post. And I think such father/daughter rapport is rare, or if not rare, at least not overwhelmingly common. How blessed you are and he was.

    I hope that writing this tribute was a wonderful experience for you. Reading it was for me.

    Love, Katie

  11. Sue Says:

    thank you for sharing this with us kerrie. i’m so very sorry for your loss.

  12. Marisa Says:

    That was really beautiful and moving, Kerrie.

    You look so much like him! I’m glad you got to have good time with him over the last few years, and so sorry for your pain now. He sounds like a truly wonderful man.

    love,
    Marisa

  13. Betty and Boo's Mommy Says:

    Kerrie, this is a wonderful tribute to you Dad. So much of what you’ve written here reminds me of my own father, who passed away when I was 15. I still miss him.

  14. deborah Says:

    That is a beautiful testament to your Dad. He sounds positively wonderful. I pray you get through the holiday season with wonderful memories of him.

  15. Dorci Says:

    Dear Kerrie, what wonderful sentiments about your dad. He seems very eerily and wonderfully like my dad, who also died at the age of 65. He was sick for 2 years before he died of leukemia. He also grew up on a farm and talked fondly of it often. He also adored sweets and washed the dishes after dinner. We’d tease him that he was so thorough he’d take half the night. We live in Phoenix, too, and when my husband and I bought a house that had a backyard full of weeds, my dad was out there in the heat with us laying sod. He did not go to church, though, but after many years of prayer received Jesus as His Lord and Savior 5 days before he died. I am so sorry for your loss. I know the pain of that first year. I pray you find comfort during this very hard time. It’s a tremendous blessing to have known such wonderful men, though, isn’t it?

  16. Megan Oltman Says:

    Kerrie I’m so glad you felt you could share this. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful person, great to know and I’m sure he was very proud of you. I’m so glad you write and share with everyone. In part, that is his legacy.


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