Friday, January 2, 2009

How do you say good-bye to your brother?

Just hours before I arrived here in California my brother, Michael B. Smith, 57, died peacefully in an Auburn hospital. His wife, Barbara had to make the difficult, but correct, decision to remove him from life support on Wednesday, December 31.

He was moved from ICU to a transitional unit in the hospital where he was kept comfortable until he died at 2:30 a.m. New Year's morning. I received the call of his death while checking into my flight at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. My brother had been insistent that I not come to see him, so I guess he got his way in the end.

As I write this I am looking out the window in the office at his home over the beautiful landscape that is the foothills of the Sierra Mountain range. Last night I slept in my brother's room, surrounded by his family pictures. It was the first good night's rest I've had in a week.

I talked to him Wednesday just before he was unhooked from life support to tell him that despite his wishes I was coming to see him. But before we hung up I told him how much I loved him and how much he meant to me. What more can you say?

I will have more to say and write a proper obituary to my brother when I return home. Thank you all for your prayers, we are sad but not without hope. He was in exteme pain and now he is not. Among my closest friends and family who wish to memorialize my brother in some way, spare the flowers and I will be collecting for the Foothill Theatre Company (www.foothilltheatre.org) here in Auburn. My brother was the house director there for three seasons and a long-time volunteer and donor to the vintage community theater. I'll let you know more later.

As per my brother's wishes he will be cremated and his ashes scattered high over an appropriate place (which I will not name in case some government agency has a stupid rule against it). In February, his friends and family will gather at his home in Auburn to have a party to celebrate his short, but wonderful life.

As for me, I am spending the weekend with his wife and then a day with my two sons and granddaughter and then returning home Tuesday. I will return to blogging then.

Late add (January 9, 2009) Here is the obituary I wrote for the local paper in California:

Michael B. Smith of Auburn died Thursday, Jan. 1, at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital. His death came after a long and courageous battle with severe infections. He was 57. Cremation has taken place. No funeral services are planned.

Michael was born Jan. 16, 1951, in Los Angeles. After high school graduation he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served his country honorably in Germany and did a tour of duty in Vietnam and received an award for rescuing a fellow airman from a fire.

After his five-year Air Force service, Michael took his computer skills and used them in setting up some of the first sophisticated wire transfer banking computer systems for Crocker National Bank and Bank of California in San Francisco. He also worked at the First Nationwide Bank in Folsom and San Francisco.

Michael and his wife, Barbara Eveleigh, moved to the foothills of the Sierra and Lake of the Pines in 1988.Michael’s work life was diversified.

At one point in his life, he worked at a trading post near the Grand Canyon where he sold Native American jewelry. He loved reading books, especially historical fiction, biographies and Civil War non-fiction.

He and Barbara loved to travel and cruise.One of his recent passions in life was the support of the Foothill Theatre Company, where he worked as its part-time house manager for three seasons and he was also a dedicated volunteer and donor, along with his wife Barbara Eveleigh.

Michael’s kind and gentle spirit, his quick wit and sense of humor will be greatly missed by his family, friends and loving pets.

Survivors include, his wife, Barbara Eveleigh, of Auburn; his father and stepmother, Lee and Janet Smith, of Virginia; brothers and sisters, James L. Smith, of Michigan, Pamela (Smith) Armstrong, of West Virginia, Laura Lee Fues, of Chicago. He is also survived by his wife’s son, Ron Eveleigh, of Grass Valley, and several nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends. He was preceded in death by his mother, Patricia Smith, and stepfather, Raymond Smith.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are requested to the Foothill Theatre Company, P.O. Box 1812, Nevada City, CA 95959.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

sorry for your loss.

Gillian Swart said...

My condolences.

killjoy said...

Sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear this Jim..

Chris Flynn said...

I'll always remember Michael as that sweet, goofey kid, who loved and looked up to his big brother Jimmy.

I have fond memories of Michael, before he went off to support his country in Viet Nam (like his big brother Jimmy), and later, his special effort to visit his two redheaded nephews.

When you were in View Nam, Michael flew up north to visit and we had a great, silly time walking around Fisherman's Wharf.

Michael had great kindness in his heart and great love and respect for his brother and sweet little sisters. I'm so sorry we lost touch over the years, but he will always be dear in my heart.

Deepest condolences and blessings to you and Joan, your sisters, Michael's dad, and Michael's wife.

Jim of L-Town said...

Thanks Chris, my brother always had a good fondness for you as well.

I appreciate your friendship over the years even when I was difficult to deal with.

It's funny how people say he looked up to me, when I always admired the way he dealt with all the adversity in his life. He had it so much harder than I did as a youngster and a young man.

His wife Barbara was the best family he ever had and we've gotten to know each other and my brother so much better over the last few days.

So much of my brother's life was under the surface, where he kept it hidden, but you can see in his room, his home and his community where his real loves lie.

Thanks again for sharing.

Pat said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your brother but remember the good times you had that cannot be taken away. My condolences.

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Jim,

So very sorry to hear about your brother. If he was like his brother, he was a special person.

Dave

Jim of L-Town said...

Thanks Mets guy. You're a pretty decent fellow yourself.

Anonymous said...

I did not know my God father as well as Id of liked to, but I loved him just the same. I will always love my uncle. He was a great man and I get to wear his slipers! I love them and him very much and I know I will see him again.

Anonymous said...

On this, my 39th birthday I am looking back on my life and am drawn to thoughts of my Uncle Mike. I love and miss him alot. Im wearing his slippers.