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 ( 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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A short break from blogging

Unfortunately, my brother has not responded to treatments, dialysis or several antibiotics and the situation is not looking good.

So I am headed to California to visit him in the hospital. Your prayers have been appreciated and at this point we are looking and praying for a miracle.

See you next week.

A buyout second chance

Just arrived home from Buffalo and found a couple of messages informing me that there has been an extension of the buyout offers at the Flint Journal for an additional two weeks. I noticed that Jim Carty is reporting the same thing for Ann Arbor on his blog.

The profit and loss numbers are in and the news is horrid. So the company wants to give those who have decided to stay one last chance to take the buyouts. It may be more of a "we warned you" type situation than an actual need for more people to take the buyouts.

Lots of rumors swirling about the central copy desk situation with one rumor that the New York owners don't think it will work and at the same time think it saves too many copy desk jobs, up to 70.

So for those who were thinking of staying, the new offer simply gives them just that much more to think about.

According to those at the meetings, Publisher Dave Sharp did not paint a very pretty picture of the current bottom line of the chain.

I couldn't feel worse for my friends left behind and I really wish there was a silver lining for them.

A dream and an adventure lived in real time

Wow, again thanks to Jim Carty at Paper Tiger No More for pointing me (and everyone who reads his blog) to the adventures of another former Booth newspaper reporter who is living a dream while blogging about it.

Here's the link to his very first post back in April, but don't stop there he is a terrific writer who is on an adventure that I certainly wish I had done at his age.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Buffalo, the new windy city

Forget the "Queen City" moniker, Buffalo, NY, on Sunday should have replaced Chicago as the windy city. With temperatures soaring to 60 degrees on Saturday there was widespread flooding (OK, give Al Gore back his Oscar) and then on Sunday all heck broke loose with the wind.

Gusts up to 75 mph swept through here all day yesterday and seriously changed the outlook for the Buffalo Bills versus New England Patriots game. If you saw any of the highlights (we watched it live) you will notice that a field goal attempt from the 30-yard line was blown well wide right because of the wind.

But at least the Detroit Lions didn't screw up their appointment with history Sunday, finally ending the misery at 0-16 for the season.

We're driving home Tuesday and the weather forecast is for an uneventful weather day. Yeah!

Gannett blog added to links

As requested by a FFE reader I have installed a link to the Gannett blog at the right. If you are interested in the daily happenings at one of the nation's biggest newspaper chains that's the source.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Notes from "Inside Out"

A long time friend has posted an interesting set of items on her blog, "Inside Out," including a nice shout out to Free From Editors. Thanks MCW!

I'm adding a link to her blog on the link list to the right.

Another newspaper perspective

A good read I borrowed off a blog from a former FJ employee. In addition to the former editor's column there is a column written by a UNC journalism professor that is a pretty good read also.