July 01, 2008

Robert Smith: A Life Well-Lived; 1917-2008

I don't normally veer far from wedding topics in this space and head for the more personal territory, but today I don't mind changing course a little bit.

My grandfather, Robert Smith, passed away on Sunday, in a hospital in Portland, Maine. He was 90- weeks away from his 91st birthday and miles away from the home in coastal York, Maine where he spent his last 23 years.

He only started getting sick earlier this year, and lived independently up until that point. Until January, he still drove his car (although many on the road kept a safe distance.), he still prepared his own food (like his grandson, he was an expert at using the microwave to whip up a TV dinner) and still rooted strongly for his favorite teams from his beloved chair pictured above (regretfully for me, all of them based in New England).

I got a chance to say goodbye to him, though, last week when I went to Maine and saw him in the hospital. He was sent to the hospital that day from the nursing home because he was having trouble breathing. I had the busiest week of my life with work, but still knew I had to make the trip. I got up there Thursday night and they weren't sure he was going to last the night. When I left the next afternoon, he was still alive and fighting, but I knew it was only a matter of time. I wanted to stay but had to leave to get back to NYC for a Friday night wedding shoot.

When he turned 90 last July, the family came up for a nice lobster dinner and I made a video celebrating his 90 years. It was great for us to watch it and even better to watch his reactions as the photos and memories flashed by on the screen. We saw him as a child in NJ and then playing basketball in college as well as photos from his time served in the Navy during WWII. We saw him as a father to twin boys- my father and Uncle Rob- and as a doting grandfather to Mark, Ryan, Tyler and myself. We saw the photos of him as a cherished husband, friend, neighbor, co-worker, uncle, father-in-law, brother and so-on. It was nice to share this video with him when he was alive and to watch him enjoy it as well.

There is a lot I can say and it still would not be enough. This blog isn't long enough for the things I can say, so I will keep it short: he was a special man and an amazing grandfather, father, husband and friend.

He will be missed but not forgotten....

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