Brenda Kay Smith: Was born on June 23, 1961 and was called home to be with the Lord on May 7, 2012.
This next segment was written out by her mother, Hazel. This can also be found on www.lubbockonline.com
"On June 23, 1961 a little angel was sent to this earth. God knew she would never be able to run, walk, or play like most other children. God had other plans for her. One purpose was to bless everyone whose lives she touched with her love, sweet smile, contagious giggle, and trusting nature. With all her physical obstacles and ailments, she taught and surprised everyone many times with her strong will to live and be able to return back to her own quality of life"
"Brenda's joy for life was spent under great care of the wonderful staff at the Lubbock State Supported Living Facility (formerly the Lubbock State School) for 42 years. This great staff and God's will can definitely be credited for Brenda's ability to survive her many disabilities for 50 years."
.....all of this again was written by Hazel Love, Brenda's mother!!
It saddens me to find out about a love one being gone. What does one say or do in moments like this? You make all the necessary phone calls to relatives, friends, etc. Make arrangements for the funeral, take time off of work, and try to make things run as smooth as they can. This passed week, my wife's family did all of this. It wasn't easy, but it happened. The week before last around Cinco de Mayo weekend, my father in law James got the call from Hazel saying that Brenda was not going to make it through the night and that he needed to be here now. In his heart, he knew he had to be there for her. As I stated above (per Hazel), Brenda's "strong will" kicked in during the final moments of her life here on earth. I believe deep down it was so James (dad) could be there one last time to say goodbye to her. It was as if she was ready, but didn't want to leave without telling her parents that she was "ok" and that she will be in a better place. I have no doubt that this was the case.
I received a call Monday night that Brenda had passed away around 8pm. As I calmly sat down and told my Stacie about it, she was in tears, but yet relieved since she knew as well in her heart that her big sister was in a better place. So, once the shock was worn off, we made our phone calls to other relatives and they made their respective arrangements with their jobs and transportation. Stacie's brother, Stephen made a trip from Galveston up to Ft. Worth to pick up her other brother, Kelly and his wife, Julie, then make the other half of his long trip to Lubbock. Almost 12 hours of driving can put a tole on anybody. Stacie's mom and dad rented a vehicle and was already in Lubbock at the time with Stacie's oldest brother, Craig (She has 5 brothers all together), and then she and myself took our own vehicle and made our long 5 1/2 hour road trip out to west Texas from the Ft. Worth area ourselves. Whew it was a long haul. It felt longer than the last time we drove up to Lubbock, but nonetheless, it was a good trip. This trip not only tired us out physically, but gave us a new lease on life in a good way. I always have this really bad habit after taking a road trip somewhere that if I only had a job, or if I could find out a way to live here or there, I would. 2 trips out to Lubbock, Texas in less than 2 months has really got me thinking.. More to come on this!!
As we all gathered in Lubbock to meet up with family and friends, we we're blessed indeed by the Lubbock State Supported Living Center, and when I say blessed, I don't mean it lightly. This trip was a HUGE financial burden on all of us that came out for Brenda's funeral. We barely had in our own budget to get a hotel, much less gas money and food. The blessing you say, and my dad in-law can testify to this, the LSSLC provided us with a place to stay for duration of the time we were in town. Oh, and it was F-R-E-E!! The living center has a couple of cottage type houses that they provide to family members for anyone that is a full time resident of the school. That meant for us, since we we're family to Brenda, we could stay in one of the houses. It was a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with a laudry room, kitchen, den, family room, and fireplace. It was done up almost like a 70's style house the way the design looked. Fine by us, so we took it. Stacie and shared a room with a full size "four post" bed and small bathroom, her parents shared the "master" room with their own bathroom, her brother Kelly and his wife Julie had a room with a king size bed, and Stephen had his own room which was connected to Kelly and Julie's room with a bathroom. Again, PTL (Praise the Lord).
Now that we had the room situation taken care, we had enough funds to take care of food and gas as we needed to. One trip to the grocery store, and we were stocked up for the week. Unfortunately, we didn't get pics of this awesome place we stayed at, but let me just say for the whole experience that we we're there, we can't thank the state facility enough for providing this for us. Side note: As for me being a runner, the facility itself is 1.5 miles in diameter all around, so you can guess what I did while I was there. Yep! I ran around a few times to keep up with my fitness...and to keep my mind focused while I was there. My main objective was to be there for my wife and her family as she was there to be by her dad's side. Mission accomplished pretty much.
By Wednesday, as everyone made into town, we met up with the Chaplains who took care of Brenda while she was in the State Facility, but at the hospital as well when her health was threatened. We all got together with them and the rest of the family that lived in Lubbock to go over what and how the funeral was going to be done. From music to who was going to speak, open casket, closed casket. Smooth as butter as far as I thought. Couldn't have planned a better memorial if you'd asked me. Stacie's brothers Scott and Craig provided music and Chaplain Ken Cartwright from the State School and Chaplain Elizabeth Abraham from the UMC hospital in Lubbock both preached and gave a word at the pulpit. And was concluded with Stacie's dad, James giving his appreciation for all the work that the Lubbock State Supported Living Center provided to Brenda after all these years. I myself was involved in the memorial as I volunteered to be a pall-bearer along with other family members: Brenda's half brothers Johnny, Donny, Stephen, Kelly, and nephew Kyle. Again, a great job was done by all who participated.
I shared all of this because, as I said above about a new lease on life. Brenda's condition and the way she was has really inspired not only me, but Stacie as well. This is why she herself hopes to be a nurse someday. Working with the under-privileged is what she feels is her calling. I know deep down because of Brenda, this is a personal persuit she is taking. I know in confidence, she will succeed. As for me, I have a personal experience with this as well, and that it is a testimony in itself. More to come on that.
In showing of appreciation of the LSSLC, when we were shacked up in the cottage we stayed at, Stacie found a plaque on the wall in the hallway that really hit home with her. The words itself could make anyone cry, and also she read these words during the memorial. As Brenda's youngest sibling, she felt honored to do this.
"A School For Little Angels"
a poem by Donald Dehay - 1994
"A school for retarded children,
That's what some folks say it is;
But I think it's a school for little angels;
Well, in fact I know it is.
Some of the kids are crippled.
Some are very weak.
And if those little kids weren't angels;
Well, they just couldn't be that sweet.
The parents are very happy with the school;
its love and care
Where some children really need the school,
But their parents just don't care.
Yes, the school is just for angels;
Where normal kids can't go
They teach the angels
What normal kids already know
All the kids are happy;
To me it always seems.
They all go to play and learn,
Until they earn their wings.
Sometimes it just takes days;
Sometimes many years.
They they get their wings
And leave their parents with (many) tears
Some think it's a school for retarded kids;
But I think it's a little unfair.
I think it's a school for angels,
For we had one that went there.
If that doesn't make you sob, you are heartless. It definitely speaks volume of what this facility is all about. And, partly for me, a big reason WHY I fell in love with Lubbock the 2nd time I came out that way. I have a passion as I stated for handicapped kids and adults. Because of them, I am now a child of God, and pretty much sober these days. Long story short, at 21, I was following my own way of life, and not what God wanted me to do. I spent a good time in the bottle, and didn't care if I lived to see the next day. A big time life of sin, and I was content. Instead, he brought a young 22 year old man with down syndrome into my path and it changed me. I spent a week at a camp for special needs in July of 2002. It was the last night before we all packed up the next day and went home. I found my friend, Casey laying in his bed crying because he knew he had to go home the next day. To make matters worse, I showed up that Monday for camp with a massive hangover because I drank way too much the night before. Again, I didn't care. I just wanted to skip town for a bit and get back at it when I got back home. God's perfect timing is all I gotta say. So, anyways.. As I tried my best to comfort my new founded friend, Casey, he asked me if I was going to see him next summer. I promised him right then and there that I would. Then, out of the blue, this same kid who couldn't tie his shoes, but can't quote the Bible asked me a gut checking question. "Hey Tim" he says, "will I get to see you in heaven someday?" I don't know where that came from, but in an instant, I was taken back. This is one question you CAN NOT lie about. Especially to a kid with his condition. And, you really can't say NO either. That night, I gave my life to the Lord, and never looked back.
I am so blessed and honored to be married into a family that cared for a soul like Brenda. It really gives life a whole new perspective for me. Another was written by an anonymous writer that speaks volume as well for anyone with special needs, and for family members of someone who is handicapped. I don't like to use the word "retard", that makes my blood boil.
"Heaven's Special Child"
A meeting was held, quite far from earth.
"It's time again, for another birth"
Said the angels to the Lord above,
This special child will need much love
Her progess may seem very slow,
and she'll require extra care
From the folks she meets
way on down there
She may not run or laugh or play
her thoughts may seem quite far away
in many ways she won't adapt
and she'll be known as "handicapped"
So let's be careful where she's sent
we want her life to be content
Please, Lord find her parents who
will do a special job just for you
They will not realize right away
The leading role they're asked to play
but this child sent from above
comes stronger faith and richer love
And soon they'll know the privilege given
in caring for this gift form Heaven
Their precious charge so meek and mild
is Heaven's very, special child,
Sorry friends, if this blog itself has shed tears, but what would you do if you ever lost a loved one. Let me rephrase, if you had to lose a loved one with a condition like my sister in law had, what would you do? The answer is unknown. I can't tell you what to do. Otherwise, that would be too easy. All I can tell you is, you love them the best you can while they are on earth here with you. Life is too short!!
My wife, Stacie and Brenda a few years back. Way before we ever met.
My father in law, James and Brenda. One last visit with her before her health started to decline
If you look real closely at the center of the cloud you can see a heart. This was taken by Stacie as we were driving back home. Nothing says "confirmation" that Brenda has arrived to the gates of Heaven quite like this. Very humbling
I'm just an in law on the outside looking in, but I can see a lot of love in this family that was inspired through the life Brenda had. I hope this love never dies for the generations to come.