Midwestern Memories | Saying Goodbye is the Hardest Part

I grew up far away from my Grandparents, yet I’ve been so blessed to know, love, and have very special relationships with ALL of them. Despite the distance, we’ve always been close. I have so many wonderful memories that I will cherish forever.

When I got the news that my Dad’s father, Grandpa Smith, had been sick for the last month or so and was sent home with hospice, while I hoped he would recover, I knew in my heart that he was ready to meet his maker. He was so uncomfortable and in pain at the end and though his mind was always very sharp, his body had failed him. And on Monday, March 28, 2011 he was finally able to let go of the pain and be at peace. He was 87 years old, loved beyond measure and a shining example of a hardworking, caring, sweet and kind hearted man. I loved him so very, very much. He had the gentlest spirit and heart of anyone I know.

This was the first time I’ve really had to deal with the death of someone I love so dearly. The comfort for me came in his devotion to Christ, the love that he had passed down to his entire family, and knowing that he lives on forever in me and in my children.

The Smiths are from a very small town in Missouri. Actually, ALL of my Dad’s side of the family still lives in the same area. I think the last census put King City, MO at about 1,000 people. That’s a crazy thought for a city girl like me. But every time I’m there, it just feels like home. And if it wasn’t for growing up a military brat, it probably would be my home today.

Tim and Mitchell weren’t able to come out for the funeral, but I was lucky to have my parents there and Megan too.

The viewing and the services were overflowing with emotion and love. My Grandfather served in World War II during the Normandy Invasion on D-Day, Battle of the Bulge, and liberation of Paris and was given the most beautiful and touching service. It was so wonderful to see how many lives he really effected with his kindness and generosity. My Grandfather was also bit of a prankster, so it was a bit ironic that he was actually laid to rest on April 1st.

All of the Grandsons were pall bearers and wore my Grandfather’s signature overalls in his honor for the service. It was a rarity to see Grandpa Smith in anything but his Big Smith overalls. I know he was smiling down from heaven at the site of it.

King City Missouri, Virgil Smith

This is my Grandma Smith enjoying one her many grandchildren. She and my Grandfather were married for 62 years. I know that she had some comfort being surrounded by the family that she and my Grandfather created together.

King City Missouri, Virgil Smith

I remember riding on my Grandfather’s John Deere tractor in a parade. I swear I wasn’t much bigger than her.

King City Missouri, Virgil Smith

After the services we went back to the house where everyone congregated. This scene is so very, very familiar to me from all of the time I spent in the summer visiting when I was a child.

King City Missouri, Virgil Smith

The day after the services, I decided to take Megan out for a photo excursion in King City. I’ve found that taking photographs is good for my soul. And there is so much character in that town (and in my little girl). small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session small town portrait session

On Sunday, our last day, the entire family went to my Grandparent’s church. The pastor was so happy to see so many of the Smith family in his pews.

star chapel, Missouristar chapel, Missouristar chapel, Missouri

After church, my Dad and his two brothers went out to the property where they grew up. The house isn’t there anymore, but an old barn and other remnants are still standing. It was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Just watching the brothers reminiscing about their childhood and pointing out where things used to be or where they used to run around was incredible. I think it might have been the first time in a long time that they all talked much about their brother Bill who was killed in Vietnam. My Grandpa would have been so proud to see his boys coming together like they did.
the Missouri house he grew up inthe Missouri house he grew up inthe Missouri house he grew up inthe Missouri house he grew up inthe Missouri house he grew up inthe Missouri house he grew up in

14 thoughts on “Midwestern Memories | Saying Goodbye is the Hardest Part

  1. These are beautiful. I’m sorry you lost your grandfather, but since he knows Christ, I KNOW he is having the time of his life right now. The images are fantastic (of course). You can feel that this was a celebration of his life. I almost thought it was a wedding at first, because you can feel that someone is being celebrated. I love that the guys wore overalls. That first shot seems like a rural midwest version of “Reservoir Dogs”.

  2. This post is so full of emotion and feelings. I was just listening to “Sorry seems to be the hardest word” and it’s the case here… I’m sorry for your loss. It’s always hard to lose someone :/

  3. this is such a precious set of photos! what a perfect way to celebrate your grandfather. the shot of the little girl in the barn near the end of absolutely adorable! 🙂

  4. This is such a touching post Teresa.

    I’m really sorry for your loss. But at the same time, this is a great celebration of your grandfather having lived a long and joyful life.

    Beautiful photos.

  5. You have captured such a beautiful celebration of life and family Teresa. The combination of joy and sorrow is there and I thank you so, so much for sharing these.

  6. Teresa-

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank goodness for our memories and photographs that help us to remember our loved ones and keep their spirits alive. These pictures are very touching, and along with your words left me all misty eyed. And what a neat little town! You seem to be able to capture the feeling in anything, even an old building. We are really looking forward to you shooting our engagement and wedding.

    Hugs to you!
    Wendy W

  7. Teresa,

    I am so sorry for your loss. This is such a beautiful blog! I believe your grandfather would have loved the photos you have posted here!

    God Bless!

  8. What a wonderful healing experience, to document this. Thank you for sharing it with us. I’m so sorry for the pain you went through, but glad for the happiness you have in his memories. 🙂

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