darkness · death · grief · vulnerability

Smile for Me Baby


Since I’ve been missing dad so much, we finally decided to set up an old TV/VCR and watch home videos. Three hours later, I was grateful. I was grateful and I was sad… sad and crying. Just hearing my dad and seeing him made me miss him so much more.

But I’m so happy that we have so many videos… that I’ll never have to forget his voice. It’s frozen in time on those tapes. He’s not just in my memory. He was behind the lens of the camera’s eye for a while, so now I can cherish him forever and share him with my children.

It’s strange the things we choose to appreciate after loosing someone. The entire time we watched the films I listened for dad’s voice very intently and I was watched everything he was doing. From teaching me how to play the keyboard they got me for my birthday, to hearing him say my name… those moments were there. And they were priceless.

I think the moment that brought the most tears to my eyes was hearing him say, “Amanda, sweetie smile for me.”

Dad used to say that to me ALL the time. “Hey, smile for me. No.. that’s not a good smile. Smile for me for real.” And I’d finally give him the smile he wanted. Even in the hospital he said, “Hey pooch, smile for me!”

Being on the opposite end of the smile, I never knew or understood what “smile” he wanted…. well not until watching those videos.

There’s a scene in one video, my first day of 2nd grade. He’s videoing us as mom is waking us up. First he scans Bridge and she’s like passed out asleep, not ready for kindergarden at all (typical). Then he scans the camera to me on top bunk… and when he catches my face I have the sweets, brown-eyed smile on my face.

In a strange way it melted my own heart because for the first time, I saw why he always asked me to smile for him. That face I saw, well it melted his heart every time.

When he saw me with that grin a father could only love on his face, he laughed a deep-hearted laugh. The laugh almost sounded like, “I was looking to find you sleepy eyed like you sister, but you’re all chipper and ready to seize 2nd grade.” Like the excitement was luring out of me and all I could do was give that grin that he loved.


When I saw this and realized it was the smile, the smile I never understood but always filed under “smile for me baby”….. well, I burst into tears. I was feeling so much love in that moment from my dad. Even writing this is causing me to tear up again because I wish more than anything I could hear him say that again.

A lot of the time I took that phrase and wanted to hurt him because he would say it to me when I was pouting or angry. When he saw the look of worry on my face he would say it to me too. He just wanted my worries to wash away, and he wanted to she that grin. A grin only I could give him.

And even when I smiled I guess what most would consider a “camera ready, fake smile” at him, he would say, “No Amanda. Give me a real smile. Come on you can do it.” And then he would make me smile until there was a smile in my eyes.

It’s strange the things I miss about dad. The things that made him… well him. They were unique to dad. And as his little girl, that smile made his heart so full every time. I could just tell by the response in the video.

I wish more than anything I could have him here to say that to me again, but I don’t. I don’t and it sucks… but it does give me one more reason to be grateful for him and his fatherly heart. It gives me a reason to cherish the fact that he loved me so much. And it most definitely makes me want to give a “real smile” more often.

Leave a Reply