While the world was preparing to bring in a new year on Wednesday, December 31st, 2014, our family was quietly giving our father the love, care, space, place and time, to transition. On New Year’s Eve at 9:30pm PST our father quietly and peacefully passed away, surrounded by the love and care of family, at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. I was honored to be there with him when he passed on.
And while emotions and logic often play a child’s game of ‘hide-and-seek’ with each other during times like these, this much I know; our father (and my dad) has been ‘Promoted.’ Gone on to a better place. And this last thing is what is most important.
Mr. Johnie Will Smith. 89 years-old, from Aberdeen, Mississippi.
My dad was 89 years old and less than 6 months from reaching 90, but he was not well. In spite of first class medical care and round the clock nurse support, the reality is that he had not been well for years. That said, his spunky and progressive attitude, his individualism and absolute assertiveness (code word for stubborn), and his absolute commitment to LIVE his life, his way, was undeniable. Right up until the end.  My father is what you might describe as ‘a man’s man.’  Up until 2014, dad was even doing back-handed push-ups on his kitchen counter, and conducting impromptu cycling-machine sessions at his home for whomever would stop and observe.
Our dad was the life of the party, until he wasn’t.

In the end, he could not walk on his own, speak for himself, eat what he wanted, or even eat on his own. He was unable to write to express himself, as he did drafting up ‘work bids’ for decades as a leading cement contractor in Los Angeles.  He ran his own business for 54 years. No one has to wonder where I got this trait from. I simply role modeled my father.  But in the end my dad could not make his own decisions, and my dad’s middle name was ‘independent thinker,’ if it was anything at all.
In many ways our father was trapped within his own physical body and unable to change it, and none too happy about it. Understandably so.
While any family would want to see and experience their father or parent living the longest life possible, that should and must be harmonized with what’s best for our parent, first. We have decided to celebrate our dad’s 89 years of contribution, work and love on his planet, and this is precisely what we will do in coming days, weeks, months and years to keep his memory and legacy alive. Celebrate our dad. Knowing, even better, that our dad is now with Our Father.
A thank you.
It should be said that a dedicated, absolutely first class team of caring and engaged medical professionals, at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, did everything humanly possible to save our dad.  And when it became obvious that they could not, they set about making sure he was absolutely comfortable, comforted, and without pain, during the process of his transition.
Thankfully, dad is in no more pain. No more long, utterly frustrating days. He’s free now. He’s in a better place. He’s been promoted. We are sure the Lord will put this good man to work immediately.
If there is a place to work and contribute, and to give, in service to the Lord, there is no doubt that our father has already signed up for duty in Heaven.
Dad passed peacefully at 9:30pm PST on New Year’s Eve. Even in the end, of this life, dad was the light of the party on New Year’s Eve.
A special thank you for the love and unconditional support of and from my family, including but not limited to our mother and matriarch Ms. Juanita Smith, my big brother Dave D. Harris, a retired Naval Officer, my sisters Mara Hoskin and Arleen Hayes, and last and most uniquely here, Mrs. Rachael Doff. Rachael is not only my dedicated chief of staff for the past 22 plus years, she is now an honorary member of our family. My father came to see Rachael as his own play-daughter.  This is a true love story.  The way, it should be, from beginning to loving end.
Author Deepak Chopra has said that ‘we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings, having a human experience.’  I believe that to be absolutely true, and  this I also know — my dad, our father, has been ‘Promoted.’
Note: My dad’s name was spelled alternatively Johnie Will Smith, Johnnie Will Smith, and Johnny Will Smith over his almost 90 years. I have decided to stick with Johnie.

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