Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today I lost one of the most important women in my life.

My grandmother “mimo” Toyce Francis Smith was an amazing woman with a heart of pure soul and gold. While growing up, Mimo lived about seven hours away in Louisville Kentucy so I only saw her once or twice per year. When we would go down there and stay with her, it was usually Thanksgiving time and be a whirlwind of food, family and of course “day after Thanksgiving” shopping trips. Due to the hustle and bustle, I never really appreciated or heeded the grandmotherly advice that Mimo would attempt to offer. Sure, like any young person and teenager, I would listen but not necessarily comprehend what I was being told.

Fast forward to 1992 when I was faced with no summer job in Central Illinois after attending my first year at Eureka College. Since money was a necessity and I had nothing to lose with very few options, I called Mimo and Coy to see if I could come live with them for the summer knowing that job prospects would be greater in a big city. Luckily they opened their house to me and the re-education of Wade would begin. Due to a job that required me to be at work from 5AM-2PM, I had most of the afternoon off and would spend a majority of that time discussing life with Mimo and Coy. We discussed my failures in Pharmacy School and my triumphs at Eureka College and I was searching for myself trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

That summer I realized just how deep Mimo’s faith in God ran. She spend many an afternoon teaching me to trust in God’s word, look for his signs, make the right decisions and follow my heart. I learned more about Mimo and more about myself in those two months than I had in the previous 21 years. We prayed together everyday and before I left her house that summer to return to Eureka, she told me that her prayers had told her that I would be introduced to a very special girl soon that I would settle down with. Of course two weeks later I meant Jeanne before classes even started at Eureka. When I took Jeanne to meet Mimo for the first time, I believe Mimo was more smitten with her than I. After that summer, I started to talk to Mimo on a more frequent basis and the jokes began that we believed that Mimo had the “direct uplink” to God. Her faith ran so deep that she would know things before they happened being told to her by God himself. While I have to admit that at first I was very skeptic, after it happens time and time again, you really start to believe in higher callings and higher beings.

While I got to know Mimo so well that summer of ’92, I was fortunate enough to live with her and Coy again for a short time in 1996. This time they opened their house to both Jeanne and I. While we only lived there for three months until we both found jobs and were able to move out onto our own, those three months changed our lives forever. Again I was blessed to spend more time having my chats with Mimo and Jeanne was able to experience chats with Mimo as well. Even after we moved out, for the next three years, we went back at least 1 or 2 days per week to just hang out and talk with her. Jeanne and I’s life together really got its start in Louisville thanks to Mimo.

Since moving away in 1999, there have been very few times that I haven’t talked to Mimo on the phone at least once every two weeks. She got me through Jeanne’s father’s passing, many relocation decisions and most importantly through our experience with pregnancies, miscarriages, and adoptions. She knew Paige was coming into our life before we did (again told by God). One of my favorite stories to tell involves Mimo. Jeanne was about 7 weeks pregnant with JD when we heard his heartbeat on a Thursday. We hadn’t told anyone yet about being pregnant since this was our 7th pregnancy and didn’t want to burden our friends and families with another miscarriage. Since we had never heard a heartbeat in the previous 6 pregnancies, we were extremely excited to share the news so naturally one of the first people I had to call was Mimo. After telling her the great news she didn’t seem to be as excited as I was and very seriously said, “honey, what would you do if you got a call about an adoption in the next week?” Of course I brushed it off and said “Mimo, people usually wait months, if not years, to adopt so I am not too worried about that happening”. Her answer was to “just think about it”. Fast forward to TWO DAYS later and what happens?? We get the call from doctor that Paige had been born and we had four hours to make a decision to adopt. Mimo knew all along that this was going to happen and claims that Paige was very special to our family and chosen by God specifically for us. Paige has a very special place in Mimo’s heart and will be watched over very carefully. A talk with her a couple years ago made me realize what she has experienced throughout her life. Some of the major events she was fortunate enough to witness:

First commercial radio transmissions to satellite radio
Creation and destruction of the Soviet Union
1st Winter Olympics
Birth of Mickey Mouse
Great Depression
WW II/Korean War/Vietnam War/Gulf Wars
Birth of TV to Color TV to Cable TV to Satellite TV
Creation of commercial airlines, first helicopter flight, space travel and moon landing
Creation of the Interstate Highway system
Personal Computers, laptop computers and internet
Cellular phones

Mimo always told me how special I was to her and how much I meant to her. Even though I told her on more than one occasion, I don’t think she ever comprehended how much she meant to me and how much of an impact she has had on my life. I wouldn’t be half the man I am today without her wisdom, knowledge and belief in God’s work. She’s gone to finally meet the man that she spoke with daily and lead a better life now. I know she will check in on me from time to time and I only hope that each time I make her smile and filled with pride to see what she helped create.