My Dad and a 1953 Oldsmobile

My Dad and a 1953 Oldsmobile

Through The Windshield of My Life


A Reflection of My Journey

Through the All American Automobile


I am beginning a series of reflections on my own life that I hope will encourage you to think about yours.  Many of us have things in our lives or activities that are energizing for us.  Sports, hobbies, maybe places or memories that are really special to us that came from our connections to those around us as we grew up.  When affirmation comes to us or special times involve people we have felt connected to, we often want to recreate those times by going back to them over and over. I believe that men often like sports so much is because of the coach, or the dad who encouraged them or spent special time with them surrounding baseball or football.  Women may like to cook because of their moms meStanwood Scenesntoring them in making their first cake, or sewing because their grandmother helped them make an apron that she wore when she moved around the house.


Something that really makes my heart jump is a beautiful car.  I have loved cars all of my life.  Mostly, the ones that really make my heart sing are those from the late fifties and early sixties.  It is no wonder that those are important.  On warm summer nights my dad and I would sit on our large front porch and play a game of “guess the car” as they would drive by.  We would talk about which ones we liked the most and try to name the maker or model as we saw them. In the fall we would go to car dealerships and sit in the new models one by one.


One particular time I remember was when the 1963 Corvette Stingray came out. I’ll never forget the strange “ball” door knobs that you would pull to release the latch on the inside of the door.  I remember the famous “split rear window” that was only on that one model year.  In the winter we went to our local Civic Center to see all of the custom designed cars and fancy painted beauties.


So, today, the magazine I subscribe to is Hemmings Motor News, “Classic Car”. I can’t wait for the next issue and can’t seem to throw any away. As I page through them I see my life before my eyes. One car reminds me of Boy Scouts, the other of my Aunt and Uncle.  A special edition of Cadillacs allowed me to stroll through my fondest family memories of living with my Aunt and Uncle and the summer vacations I had with them.  Fond, positive, memories bloom like the whisps of clouds above when I stroll through old car shows.  “59 Cadillacs are my favorite but then a wonderful 1966 Thunderbird convertible will cause my heart to go “pit-a-pat”.  I am not really connected to sports but I am sure for some men a Giants game is not to be missed.  Hum, I wonder why?


As I write future issues, if you don’t like cars, just think of what makes your heart sing.  Ponder why you like what you do or why you spend so much time on a hobby.  Picture in your mind a special place where you long to return to some day so that you can relive a part of your life that brings you to a warm pleasant memory.


I am going to begin with a story about my dad.  This lays a foundation for my life that is very significant to me.  I am who I am because of who my dad was.  His faith, his unconditional love, his kindness and stability all laid a foundation that I live out of every day.


The first car I remember as a child was a red 1953 Oldsmobile.  It had a two tone paint job that included a bright shiny black top.  It was bulbous in design and was a tank.


What symbolizes some of the first wonderful memories of your life? Was it the Yankees?  Was it a Singer sewing machine?  How about a flower or a lake cabin?  Maybe a fishing boat?  Or the smell of a freshly baked loaf of bread.  Whatever it was, I hope you will remember, ponder, reflect, and turn to our Lord, Jesus Christ with thanksgiving for those things that are positive.  Life can surely be challenging but even in the deepest pain lies a good God who can paint a wonderful picture out of our difficult world.


My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”


These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving

among the festive throng.


Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?


Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God

Psalm 42:3-5


A Tribute To My Dad


For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8


In 1Smid Wedding crop 1948948 Norman Smid married Vera. they were married for 16 years most of which were tumultuous and broken. They had three children, two girls and then I came along as the youngest and only boy.  In 1965 my mother divorced my dad and his life was broken into a million pieces.  His greatest grief was that he would no longer be with his kids on a daily basis and that somehow he felt that he had failed God and the church from being involved in a divorce.


For twenty five years my dad lived as a single man. He struggled with loneliness and at times experienced some very low times emotionally. He was extremely committed to his convictions that a man should only be married once and if divorced, he should live as a celibate man and not pursue anything that would tempt to lust or inn inappropriate behavior with a woman.


As I grew up my dad often referred his life before he was in the Army Air Core. He had a green army trunk that held objects that meant a lot to him and reminded him of his life.  Amongst the things he had pictures of people that he knew. There was a couple of pictures he talked about with fondness that were of a lady we always knew as “Monica”.  Monica and my dad were engaged to be marred before he went off to the war. Upon his return they broke up and my dad moved on to marry my mom.

DadandFriends1974


Working as a letter carrier he had many great friends that were a working family for him.  He showed his character through how his friends loved him and were committed to him through the trials of life.  Due to some bone spurs on his feet he found he could no longer work so he retired in 1974 at the age of 52.  This left him with a lot of empty time on his hands which was a challenge for those who loved him.  He went through some depression and a heavy dependence on others which caused some pressure on his family.  It was a time in our lives when we were heavily tied up with little babies and just couldn’t seem to meet his relationship loneliness.  He started to volunteer with a local agency that helped mentally challenged kids. He became a swimming coach to them and they all loved him dearly.  It seemed to me that this is when my dad’s life began to improve. The unconditional love he received from those kids began to break through his depression and he started to see life with a different view.


In 1987 my dad called me with some interesting news. He said he had found out that Monica was a widow and he wanted to talk with her.  So, he proceeded to drive half way across the country to see her again after all of the years of their lives passing by since their last conversation.  Needless to say, a flame was ignited again in their lives and shortly thereafter they got married!  They lived in Las Vegas Nevada and were both extremely happy with their reunion and in their marriage.  50 years had transpired and I was 33 years old and finally I knew my dad as a happily married man and a husband who loved his wife dearly.  It was pure joy to see his life come to a fulfillment of his dreams from when he was 19 years old.


Norm and Monica

This story would be like something you would see on Oprah.  Their love was rich, they shared a common faith and served each other sacrificially through their married years.  Monica survived cancer, heart surgery and double knee replacement as well as the challenges of her own adult children.  During this time my dad had illnesses of his own so their life wasn’t pain free but they supported each other, loved each other, and were deeply fulfilled.


So, after just 8 years of marriage, my dad passed away in 1997. I sure wished he could have had more time with Monica but through those years they were so happy together.  As we began to talk about the memorial plans I felt strongly led to ask to give a eulogy for the two services that were going to be held. One in the church he was attending in Las Vegas, the other in his home church in Omaha Nebraska.  I asked each officiating Priest if that would be permissible and both of them said yes.  So, as I thought about my dad’s life I could think of no better  way to tell others who he was than to talk about the way he faced his own life with grace and how he related to others along the way.  One of the greatest strengths my dad had was the way he could love each person as though they were the only one.  He loved my sisters and I so uniquely that we often would tease each other with, “I’m dads favorite”.  We truly felt that way.

DadandKids1997



During our family memorial service several of my female cousins came up to me and showed me a pin that my dad had given them. Each one a little different but they proudly wore them and they walked in to the service several of them whispered to me, “your dad gave this to me” as though someone else didn’t get one like they had.  I found that indicative of who he was and the way he treated people.

DadandKids1974





I wrote some notes for my eulogy which I still carry in my Bible today.  When I got home from the last memorial service I compiled my notes and I sat down and wrote an article to show others who my dad was. I wanted more people to know him and I didn’t want to forget that day or what I had shared about his life.




Through My Dad’s Eyes

“Dad, I’m gay and I’m going to divorce my wife.” All I remember from that evening’s discussion were tears, love, and a father that was trying to share wisdom from his own life experience. “John, don’t do this. Leaving your family will not help anything. I don’t want to see you do this to yourself or to your family.” My dad didn’t scold me or get angry. But I was too stubborn. I was stuck and fearful. At that point in my life, I wasn’t listening to anyone.


My dad had a life of many sorrows and disappointments. There were times when I saw such depression I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through. But one thing was consistent: his active faith never wavered. As long as I knew him, he never left God’s side . . . no matter how tough things got. One of his many sorrows came as he was faced with my homosexual struggles. I had been married for six years and had two beautiful daughters that I loved very much, but my heart was so confused. When I got married in 1973, I swore that I would never get a divorce. I had been hurt so much by the divorce of my own parents that I didn’t want to ever see my children go through that experience. Yet through pornography and  my deep curiosity about men I developed a homosexual fantasy life. The final step came through a homosexual friend who introduced me into acts of adultery and I willingly followed.


I left my wife and family and embraced a life of sexual promiscuity, frequenting bars and overall irresponsibility. But through this period of my life, no matter what, there was always a connection with my dad. We didn’t separate from each other. Yet  the difference in our lives created an invisible barrier between us. I thought by simply introducing my dad to my partners and friends that he would grow to understand and embrace my homosexuality. My dad’s responses continually revealed his relationship with the Lord to me as he exhibited the spirit of Christ. One night I stopped by my dad’s house, testing the waters of acceptance. “Dad, I would like you to meet Joe. He is a good friend of mine.” My dad responded with grace, extending his hand to Joe. He would engage in conversation with my friends, and never pulled away from them.


I invited my dad to my house to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. I still have pictures of my homosexual partner, at the time, cutting the cake amidst a roomful of friends. My dad was right there, supporting my daughter and relating to the others with grace. He never faltered in his personal opinions or in his relationship with Christ. He was uncomfortable with my lifestyle and disagreed with my choices, yet he was willing to be uncomfortable in order to  actively love me.


My friends were aware of my dad’s respect for them. They respected him and trusted him because he treated them as human beings loved by God. Through the witness of a friend, I eventually began to understand a walk of faith. I decided to rein in my life and my dad was still there rooting for me. But my new faith based life was not yet clear to him. As a result, when I decided to move to full time ministry work he was very uncomfortable with the idea. “John, I ’m not sure about this. You’ve always had a hard time sticking with something. You might change your mind, and be worse off than you are now.” I stood on my convictions. “Dad,” I said, “that is how I used to be. But I’m growing up. My faith is giving me the strength to become more mature.” About a month later my dad came to me with these words, “John, I believe this is a good decision and I want you to know I am with you all the way.” With my father’s blessing on my work and my life, nothing could stop me!


I found I was invited to share my story in very public ways.  In June of 1997 I was scheduled to be on Larry King Live. My dad once more showed me the spirit of Christ. The day before the program was to air he called me. “John, I told all my friends this morning at breakfast to watch the show. I told them my son was going to be on TV.” My dad was not ashamed or embarrassed about my life, past or present. He carried no guilt or shame about what was going on. He was proud of me and supportive of me sharing my life story. He continued over the years to tell others about me and the new life I had found.


In one newspaper interview regarding my story, I stated that during part of my childhood my dad had been emotionally absent. I later asked if it had hurt him to read what I had said. “Sure it hurt,” he responded. “But it was true. During that time in my life, I was under so much stress that I was unavailable for anyone.” His response put healing salve on my wounds. I saw more clearly into my dad and the way our father–son relationship had developed.


Over the last couple years of his life, my dad’s health began to fail due to a lung disease. He hated being attached to an oxygen hose, and became frustrated when he couldn’t go places like he used to. But each time I would call, or he would call me, he would repeat the same message. “Everything with me is just great, I love you, keep up the good work.” During the last two months of his life he was in the hospital hooked to breathing machines and IVs. When we went to see him, he would usually smile and wink. It wasn’t until his last week alive that he became more frustrated with the medical input. He knew he was going to die and was ready to go.


March 21, 1997, my father passed away. He was seventy-five years old. We had spent thirteen years building a deep, rich relationship. His godly faith and humility played an important part in my growth towards more maturity. Norman John Smid has left this world for a better place. I still miss him greatly, and would love to hear him say once more that he loves me and I am doing a good job. But I have no regrets about our relationship. During his last bout of illness, he had no dying words or last minute rushed message to tell me or anyone else. He had already shown us and told us many times. Likewise, I don’t feel I left out anything. I had shown him my love and respect, and he had let me know that I had also blessed him in his life and faith.


And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:17


I received a model from my dad that I share with others as they suffer through the difficulty of having a challenging loved one.


• Tell your kids you love then and actively show them.


• Be willing to be with them even when it may be uncomfortable for you.


• Respect all people no matter how you feel about their behavior.


When they take positive steps of growth, bless their steps and show them that you see the changes they are making, even when they don’t have a proven track record.


• Model humility and trust in the ever faithful Jesus Christ.


I am not sure I will ever be able to measure up to my dad’s reputation or his love, but I know he supported me and believed in me. I’ll never measure up to God’s standards either, but I know I am His and He loves me and believes in me.


© 1999 John J. Smid

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5 Responses to “My Dad and a 1953 Oldsmobile”

  1. Barbara Leaman says:

    John,

    I am sitting here at the library, and just finished reading the tribute to your dad. I have tears in my eyes because I can tell how much your dad meant to you. He would have been so pleased with the lovely things you wrote about him, and knowing the impact his faithfulness had on your life. I am sorry he is gone, and yet, how blessed you were to have each other.

    Barbara

  2. Don Schmierer says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for sharing such a great tribute to your Dad, it was a very touching story. Sharing this has also helped me to know you a little better and appreciate your walk and service to our Lord.

  3. Mike Studdard says:

    Well said, well told and well lived.

  4. Kerry Dowdell says:

    Hi John,

    I enjoyed reading your beautiful story of love, faithfulness and devotion. Your father’s love for you is such a picture of Christ’s faith and devotion to His children. You were very fortunate to have a father who loved you as best as any earthly father can love their son.

    Just recently I spoke with my birth father for the very first time. My mother had located him and asked him to call me….he kept his word to her and phoned me and we spoke briefly. Though he is not interested in pursuing a relationship with me, I (have known)and now know that my Heavenly Father is all that I need. Thank you for showing me that there are good fatherly examples in the world today.

    By the way I was born in Lincoln, NE and that is currently where my birth father lives. I remember years ago talking to Vileen about Tekameh……….I still think about my fond memories of growing up in NE.

  5. Jenny "Jenner" Davis says:

    Dear Uncle John,

    Grandpa Norm was the best grandfather and father anyone could ask for. He really did display genuine love and Christianity. I could always rely on his strength and unconditional love. He went out of his way to make sure family members were taken care of and knew how special they were. Your article came at a time in my life when I needed my spirits uplifted. The reminders on how to overcome depression with an active role in the community along with being available to our children even when they become adults is favorable to God and brings joy to everyone! Thank you so much! I love you.

    Sincerely,

    Jenny

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