Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - January, 19, 2010

Some where after the heat kicked in, I noticed that the red numbers on the ceiling said 2:11 AM. What seemed like a short while later I noticed it was 4:14. By now the brain has kicked in and memories are firing right and left before long the rest of me is awake too. I had wondered last night how I would get my Tombstone Tuesday written. Well, now I know…

With memories reeling in my brain and one of the frames that I noticed were of a man who in my life was larger than life. His name was Everett Alton Smith. He was the oldest son of Alvin and Cora Smith. He was born in 1904 in Uniondale, Indiana at the home of his maternal Grandparents, John and Emma Crites. Three years earlier the first automobile had been produced, 1901 Curved Dash Oldsmobile, built by Ransom E. Olds. It’s hard for me to image a time when there wasn’t an automobile. Alvin, Everett’s father would decide 16 years later that it was time to get in on this “automobile action” which would begin a bit of a legacy in this Smith family with General Motors. Everett however would make a different decision about his life. As a young newly wed man, Everett work for a company which manufactured and sold batteries and other automotive parts.

Everett is seated at a display which is setup in a large tent for at some kind of a conference. On his marriage license, Everett states that he is a battery charger. Within 10 years Everett would find what would turn out to be his real calling. He enrolled in the seminary at Albion College where he lived and studied for a year while his young wife and small children remained in Flint with other family members. He was officially ordained as a minister in 1933, soon after the Great Depression. In 1934, he become an elder of the Methodist Protestant Church in the Michigan Conference. He would serve as a minister in seven church from 1934 until 1956 when he retired. Everett learned that he was afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis which cut short his career as a minister. He had decided that he would preach as long as he could stand behind the pulpit. When he could no longer be certain that he could stand, he would retire. The year would be 1956. After retiring, he and Lillian remained in Lapeer until 1965, when they moved into the West Grand Boulevard Temple Retirement home, in Detriot.

As the granddaughter of Everett, what I really remember the most is that he was a gentle giant. He seemed so big to me. As a child, his lap was a favorite place of mine. You were always welcome to come sit with him especially when he found a rocking chair or a large wing back. I could melt into his lap and listen to his mellow voice. When he gave you a hug you were engulfed by the most secure set of and loving arms. They reminded me of the arms of God. Looking back at his life, he knew then that he had MS and knew that his life would soon change in a radical way. He always had a smile on his bright face and a kind word. If he was afraid or anxious about his illness, he never showed it.

Here he is holding Sharon and you can see the brace that he wore on his right leg. It was this brace that I remembered that he wore when I was a kid. I remember that he could not run and play with us, like my Dad did but he was older and I just thought that maybe that was why. When I was seven, I spent a week in Lapeer with Grandma and Grandpa. It was during that week when I realized that something was wrong with Grandpa. Every morning and afternoon, Grandpa would spend twenty minutes on a stationary bike exercising his legs trying to keep them alive but in the hours between the morning and afternoon bike sessions he spent four hours at the WMRP radio station working. Grandma and I rode to the station early to pick him up from work each day. I remember sitting in the parking lot of the station where we listened to the last ten minutes of his broadcast. It was a bit strange hearing his familiar velvety voice coming out of the car speakers. Two short years later he could no longer make his legs work so he began to use the wheel chair that we all remember so well. From that time on he became a very dependent on all the people around him. There must have been a struggle within him. This once large robust man who can now can barely move but he bore his burden in silence. Thankful for those around him who helped him each day. For thirteen years he lived in a body which lost its ability to function day by day. On March 9,1978 , his heart finally quit beating and he was gone.

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