Smile Experiment

Last year, my husband, Lee, was granted the opportunity to study at Harvard. The children and I were thrilled to fly to Boston for a visit and one morning, while sitting inside a cozy Starbucks in Harvard Square, I challenged our little family to conduct an experiment.

We sat facing a large plate glass window and had front row seats looking out on a cold and drizzly day. Folks were scurrying to and fro and seemed stunned to glance up and glimpse our quartet grinning at them from ear to ear. A few strained to smile back, but the vast majority quickly diverted their eyes and kept their lips pursed. Throughout the time we conducted our “smile experiment,” I reminded our dynamic duo about the terrific testimony that is our countenance. Proverbs 15:13 says, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Our outward expressions often reflect what’s going on inside. We discussed the numerous reasons we have to be joyful, beginning with the forgiveness of our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Our conversation turned to Grand Daddy and his beautiful smile. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my daddy go a day without smiling.


So often, Mother would retell Christa and me of her first seeing Daddy after his extensive injuries in Vietnam. She had been drawn by his familiar voice echoing down the long corridor of Bethesda Naval Hospital. Stopping at the door where she thought she heard his voice, Mom was shocked to see two bandaged and badly wounded men. She thought she had the wrong room number and, embarrassed, quickly turned to leave. Then Mother heard Daddy’s lowcountry drawl say, “Dea, honey, it’s me. Please don’t leave. Baby, I know I’m not too pretty to look at, but I am happy to be alive and home with you.”

Head shaven, weighing 115 pounds, bandages covering both ears, a patch where his left eye had been, right arm in a cast and only a stump where his left arm used to be, legs embedded with shrapnel, he was completely unrecognizable but for the smile which pulled against his stitches. Mother knew it was my daddy. She ran over to him gently wrapping her arms around his frail body and exclaimed, “You’re beautiful!”

I have no idea what you’re dealing with this Thanksgiving Eve. I am not even really sure why I felt compelled to record these thoughts while in the midst of preparing cornbread dressing. I do, however, know we have much to be thankful for and we need to let our faces show it.

Merry Thanksgiving!


6 thoughts on “Smile Experiment

  1. Your Granddaddy Clebe spoke to our football team (The Citadel) one night during our 1985 or 1986 summer camp, before the season started. I still remember vivid details of his presentation. His piercing eyes, his warm smile, his firm, unmistakable voice. He shared his experiences and his testimony. I recall him telling us about his “certy-shree” surgeries (33….couldn’t quite pronounce 33 because of his injuries). He had an impact on all of his. He conveyed his wisdom through his many salient points. I never forgot….FIDO….”forget it drive on”. Coming across his name in a facebook post has made my day. All the best to your family. Scott Thompson, class of ’87. Bravo Company. Atlanta, GA.

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