Every year on March 22 I would make an early morning phone call to my Grandpa Smith and sing “Happy Birthday to you”. Every year on my birthday the first phone call I got was from my grandparents singing that very song to me in perfect harmony. It was a tradition that I dearly loved and looked forward to. Then came the year that Grandpa called me by himself as grandma was in the Alzheimer’s unit. A few years later there was no phone call as Grandpa had gone to heaven. Today as I write this it is Sid Smith’s birthday. He is without a doubt the finest man I ever knew, ever. He was a godly man who always started his prayers with “Dear kind righteous Father”, wore a 3 piece suit and a hat every day, did business with a handshake, showed me by example that a little square of Hershey bar after dinner was a necessity, never let me pay for a meal if he was with me, made me laugh every time we talked, was fiercely loyal to his family and enjoyed a little whisky now and then (it was good for the digestion he would say).
When he died I got his bible. He checked marked every chapter in that precious book, sometimes twice or 3 times. There were notes and dates and even a random phone number written in the upper corner of the inside back cover! I held on to it for a few years but it always really disturbed my soul knowing I was not the one who should have this precious treasure. It was bound in leather but was completely worn out! My former pastor, Bob Kleinschmidt, does a beautiful job of recovering bibles. His craftsmanship is exemplary so I sent it to him. When it came back to me I opened the box and tears flooded my eyes. It was beautiful! My cousin Sidney Bill is my grandpa’s namesake. I was the first born grandchild but he was the first born boy (3rd grandchild behind my sister) and named after grandpa. I knew that Sid should have this dear book so I sent it to him. From his response to me I knew it meant the world to him. It was the right thing to do. I didn’t need to hang on to Grandpa’s bible; I had his sweet memory in my heart.
THE PAPER WITH TORN EDGES
Sitting in church one Sunday at the Assembly of God church my grandparents attended things started getting a bit wild for this young baptist girl. Grandma was in her usual place at the piano. Grandpa and I were in the 4th pew. I think I was about 12. The music was great, the pastor was speaking, then it happened. A woman stood up and started speaking in a foreign language then someone else did the same then someone else. I clung to my Grandpa’s arm. He whispered in my ear, “this is enough to scare a baptist to death”. I went to a very conservative baptist church where there was bearly an “amen” uttered. These precious people were speaking in tongues. I had never experienced that before. It was quite frightening to me. Grandpa took a piece of the church bulletin insert, wrote “Terrie Ince Grandpa loves you” and tore it off. Terrie Ince is my nick name. It came about because when my cousin Sid was little he couldn’t say Terrie Lynn so he called me Terrie Ince over and over again. To this day my Smith cousins call me Ince. It really is sweet. I put that paper in my bible and I have had it ever since. It is precious to me in so many ways!
SISTER MARY WAS A STICKLER
As you can see by the note my grandfather had exquisite penmanship. He was the baby of the family, number 12. His dear mother, Sarah Johnson Smith, had 5 children then 3 sets of twins in a row – Virgil and Virgie (Bud and Sis), Andrew Lee and Jay Dee (Big Boy and Little Boy) and Ira and Irene. They were all fraternal twins. My great grandmother was one prolific producer of eggs! Irene died when she was 3 months old. Grandmother was bereft and depressed. It was a very difficult time. They decided to try one more time for another child. Enter William Sidney Smith (Sidney Bill). When the doctor delivered grandpa he went back to my great grandma looking quizically at her. She asked what was wrong. He said to her, ” I’m just looking for the other one.” There was no twin this time, just grandpa. My great grandpa certainly gave a sigh of relief! Grandpa’s sister Mary (and he always called her “Sister Mary”), was almost 18 years older than grandpa. She became a school teacher and taught in the one room schoolhouse there in Corpus Christi where they lived. Sister Mary was grandpa’s teacher. She was a task master when it came to penmanship. Big sis had great plans for her little brother and told him that if he was going to make anything of himself he must have excellent penmanship so he could fill out a job application. First impressions mean everything she would say. Dear Aunt Mary lived to be 104 years old. She was the only person in our family to live past 100. Child # 2, my Uncle Claude, lived to be 99. He would always say, “When I get to be 100 I’m callin’ in the dogs.” The man was as healthy as a horse! The only pill he took daily was a multi-vitamin. Those Smiths were long livers!
He loved me with all of his heart and I loved him with all of mine. Of all of his sayings there was one he never said to me and it was, “there’s gonna be a hind-end kicking and you’re gonna furnish it.” That was reserved for my brothers. Some day I am going to write a book called Grandpa Smith Said. We could all learn a few things from Sid Smith. God bless you Grandpa and happy birthday. I look forward to hearing your voice again as we rejoice in heaven!