It’s not even six a.m. and I’m up and packed.

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Jakedog, Oct 18, 2020 at 8:33 AM.

  1. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Well. I’m headed to Texas.

    I’m lucky in that after nearly forty years, I still have my childhood best friend, and we’re still extremely close even though we don’t live anywhere near each other. I’m in Cleveland and he’s in Lubbock.

    He called me Tuesday afternoon and said he was on his way to our hometown, that his dad had reached the end of the road, and has soon as he and his brother arrived they were taking him off life support. It was an emotional day.

    This morning I get in the car and drive to meet the family. Cause they’re my family, too. Growing up I slept at their house as much as I did my own. I called them mom and dad like I did my own folks, just as my friend did with mine.

    Back then Lee Smith was a big, strong guy. Vietnam vet. Navy Corpsman. Combat medic. The dude got shot at in helicopters and tramped through jungles with his gun and his bandages, trying to keep kids from literally falling apart. He was a legit hero.

    By the time I met him in 1981, and his son and I became instant best friends, he owned his own tile laying business. That left his weekends wide open. My own father was still in the army, he stayed til retirement. His schedule was not all that flexible. So it was Lee that did the overwhelming majority of Boy Scout troop camping, canoeing, and fishing trips with us. He taught me how to fish, to track, to shoot, and loads of other stuff. And on weekends my dad did get off, or when he took some leave to take a trip with us, we really had a blast.

    Lee Smith loved things that went fast. He had a ‘72 F250 short cab that he never stopped messing with when I was a kid. It had a 429 police interceptor engine, amongst other goodies that made it look like a farm truck, and run like it’s ass was on fire. When Brent and I got older and started driving we never a lost a race in that truck. He souped up his wife’s LTD. much to her chagrin she had the most screamin’ grocery getter in San Angelo, TX.

    He loved Kung Fu Theatre, and Lethal Weapon. He really loved Lethal Weapon. Early on he adopted Danny Glover’s signature “I’m getting too old for this s#!t” line.

    He wasn’t musical, but he always supported Brent and I playing, and helped out whenever he could if we needed something.

    Senior Prom Brent and I were over at their house getting dressed and prepped to go to the dance. As we were leaving the house to go pick up our dates he handed Brent a bottle of aspirin. We were confused, and he smiled and said “In case she gets a headache!”. Brent’s mother turned bright red and screamed “Leroy Smith you take that back RIGHT NOW!!” He was laughing like a maniacal little kid. It was beautiful.

    He showed us how to rig booby traps to mess with our other friends. Water, fireworks, etc. He helped us make an atomic potato gun that must’ve launched 300 yards.

    As he got older, life got harder for him. The last twenty years have been a daily battle for him as depression and ptsd set in deeper and deeper. He always kept his chin up, but his struggle was 24/7, and got worse as time went on. He found help with veteran’s support groups, and private counseling, and he started to open up and talk about the war, which he never did when he was younger. It helped him a lot, but it could be really hard to listen to according to his sons. I wasn’t around for those years, but apparently he got to the point where he was incredibly candid about unspeakable things. It was his way of trying to come to terms with what he’d seen and dealt with.

    The last couple years he’d gone down hill fast. ALS got him and tore him down to nothing in no time flat. Tuesday afternoon the war was finally over for him.

    I’ll drive to San Angelo today, to be with my best friend, his little brother, and my second mom, and tomorrow I’ll help carry his casket and say goodbye. Lee Smith was one of my biggest heroes and mentors as a young person. He had every bit as much influence in my life as my own father did. I feel like my childhood is truly gone now. Having lost my own father back in ‘96, I have a pretty good idea what Brent, and his mother and brother are feeling like. I’m gonna go to them now.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. I was doing ok this week until this morning. I knew it was gonna hit me sooner or later.
     
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  2. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    safe journey Jake , it sucks to go under those circumstances , but you got to go! be safe
     
  3. Kevin Wolfe

    Kevin Wolfe Tele-Meister

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    My condolences.
    You’re a great friend, and a good man!
     
  4. REWTX

    REWTX Tele-Meister

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    Great words about him. You were fortunate to have him in your life. Condolences to you and the rest of the family. I appreciate his service to this country.
     
  5. gimmeatele

    gimmeatele Tele-Holic

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    Fantastic eulogy in its self.
     
  6. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Stop by and say hey to Wally while you're in Lubbock!
     
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  7. swervinbob

    swervinbob Tele-Holic

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    It’s great that you can be there for your friends and “family” to say goodbye. Living that far away, with work and your own thing going, sometimes it can be tough to get there.
     
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  8. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    So sorry to hear this. Lost one of our closest friends to ALS when he was about 32. A devastating disease. Glad you can go down to be together. Sounds like you have a lot of memories to share.
     
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  9. SuprHtr

    SuprHtr Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    That's a fine eulogy. Travel blessings to you.
     
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  10. koolaide

    koolaide Tele-Holic

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    JD you already know the road ends for all of us at some point. It is part of the circle of life. It is clear by your post just how much your relationship meant. You were blessed to have not one but sets of parents. Know that he too was blessed to have you in his life. ALS is a terrible disease. Know that he is in a better place. Stay strong bro and continue to remember the good things and the person you described to us as what I would call a man's man. Stay safe.
    Prayers for you and Mr. Smiths family.

    Peace,
    Jim
     
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  11. tery

    tery Doctor of Teleocity

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    God bless . . .
     
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  12. Wallo Tweed

    Wallo Tweed Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the post JD.

    Safe travels.
     
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  13. stxrus

    stxrus Poster Extraordinaire

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    First, my condolences and have a safe trip

    To have friends and “family” like that is truly a powerful and wonderful thing

    Your eulogy was very moving

    Positive thoughts heading to everyone involved with this
     
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  14. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    That was a fine piece of writing, Jakedog.
     
  15. Guitharley

    Guitharley Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    The family will be happy and grateful to have you home with them, as much for the diversion as the support.
    condolences to all
    travel safe
     
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  16. telleutelleme

    telleutelleme Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing. Glad you get to visit, wish it was under better circumstances. Prayers to you and your extended family.
     
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  17. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    You’re a true friend!
    Drive carefully!
     
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  18. Chuckster

    Chuckster Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    A wonderful tribute to a wonderful guy... my thoughts are with you and Lee's family.

    I had a "Lee Smith" as well when I was growing up; it's important to share their stories.
     
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  19. Greggorios

    Greggorios Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    You're both a good friend and good "son". Condolences.
     
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  20. djh22

    djh22 Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Safe travels, @Jakedog, and thanks for sharing a beautiful eulogy. Heartfelt condolences.
    Godspeed Lee Smith. You fought the good fight. You won the race. Rest in peace.
     
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