Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Uncle Bob~

Of course some of my best memories of our family trips to Seattle involve you and the boat and plane trips you took us on. Twenty + years later, I still share the story of how you let me fly your plane and we went over the destruction of Mt.Saint Helen! Friends are always wow'd by that! I always loved visting your family - as evidenced by the one time in my mid-twenties I came up for a long weekend by myself to do some soul searching while on a "break" with my long term boyfriend. I remember the long walk we took one morning, the cool Seattle air, and the relaxed conversation. All much needed by me at the time. You and Aunt Priscilla created a warm and loving environment for a troubled girl that weekend. Thank you for that. Thankfully, I have now found a wonderful man to spend the rest of my life with and I would love for you to meet him someday. Nate is a laid-back, CA native / surfer / high school history teacher who is very genuine and loving. I am keeping you and your health, as well as Priscilla and the family, in my prayers, Uncle Bob. I hope this note brought you a smile, as my great memories of you bring me a smile.

Much love and prayers, Julie
My husband just forwarded your email to me in San Diego. I have been down here helping my mom clean up from the aftermath of the San Diego fires. Her house and yard were covered in soot, but at least her house survived the fires. I am so sorry to hear that your dad has taken a turn for the worse. I can only imagine how hard this is on all of you, because I know how close your family is! Please know that each and every one of you are in my prayers.

I would love for you to tell your dad just how very special I think he is! When I think of him, I think of all the kindnesses he has extended to our Sudanese friends. He has always been so incredibly loving and giving to each and every one of them. He gave so much of his time and his energy to them for so many years! They were constantly telling me how Bob had helped them with their cars, or helped them move or helped repair something in their apartment, or co-signed a loan for them, or had them for dinner, and on and on. He really has been a saint to so many of the Sudanese and they all love him dearly!

When I think of Bob, I also think of he and Priscilla serving the homeless guys with me. They would bring all those delicious dishes that Priscilla had slaved over all day and they would serve those guys with such love and respect. Every one of those homeless men could see the face of Christ in Bob and Pricilla's faces!

When I think of Bob, I think of the hundreds of times I would see him in the church office counting the offering after church. He always had a smile on his face as he opened the locked office door for me. Even though he had done it hundreds of Sundays before, he never looked like he was tired of serving, or resentful of the time he spent taking care of church business. I know he has given thousands and thousands of hours to making sure the finances of the church were in order. Talk about a thankless task, but he has always done it with a willing heart!

Please tell your dad that he really is one of the most Godly people I have ever had the priviledge of knowing and I feel extremely fortunate to call him my friend.

With love and prayers to you all, and especially to Bob!

Carol Nohavec
Dear Noelle, Bob, Priscilla and Family,

Thank you for the emails keeping us all up to date on Bob's situation. You all have been in my prayers for sometime now, and that will certainly continue. Bob is such a special guy. Always quick with a smile and willingness to pitch in wherever needed. I don't think our dear African brothers would have made it without his great love and support for them! And our church finances. Who else could be so trusted and conscientious about our books? You know, there aren't many who give of themselves so wholeheartedly and without any thought of recognition. But that's the Bob we know and love!

Bob, I miss your smiling face and gentle presence. Sunday we prayed as a congregation for you and Priscilla and your family. I know you are in good hands and held tightly by His loving embrace. May God bring you healing and comfort.

Your sister in Christ,
Anne Grunow

A letter to Bobby

Dear Cuz,

Learning of your most recent illness, I thought back to some of the good times we had growing up.

I remembered one of the times we went to the Cotton Carnival in Memphis in the old dark blue panel truck with you driving. I can't remember who all went, just that the truck was packed and we had a ball! I also thought about one trip we took in your folks' green packard. It was packed, too, but, for the life of me, I can't remember where we went.

Another memory that came back was of you, Leroy, Bill and the Johnson boys throwing chinaberries at us girls from the tree in Grandmama and Granddaddy's back yard. I thought I would never forgive any of you for that!

I remember when you joined the Marines and what a rough time that was for you. But you survived and went on to accomplish what you had started out to do. I am so proud of you.

I also remember well the revival night when you, Leroy, Bill and I walked down the isle of First Baptist Church in Indianola and accepted Jesus into our hearts. That was a very special time. I didn't understand a whole lot about what I was doing then but God understood and He has "grown" me a lot since then.

I am praying for you constantly and hoping for a good report.

I love you, Karen

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you so much for all of your kind words. Today was a very long day for us all at the hospital, but Dad is still hanging in there. He was awake and alert for a little while this evening, and his granddaughter, Michelle, reminded me of an email I had sent the immediate family about 2 years ago. It is at the bottom of this email. We read it aloud to him and he nodded along with every word - acknowledging his amazing early years in aviation.

We can tell he is with us mentally - even though he can't respond with words. I shared with him this evening the many people who have called and emailed in the past few weeks. His eyes lit up when he heard your names. This last Friday, Jenny, my Mom and I were reading "get well" cards to him and he had a very similar response. At one point, he even grabbed for a card, wanting to read it for himself.

So many of you have asked if you can do anything - and one idea that came is to share this gift that we have - these precious hours with him. If you feel so inspired, please feel free to share your memories, stories, messages, etc with him. We can then take turns in the hospital reading your words to him. Just email them to me. (And of course, feel free to forward this on to anyone who might have something they would like to share and just have them send me an email).

Thank you again for your amazing love, support and prayers. It is a truly beautiful thing to see all of the lives he has touched. Our appreciation is beyond words.

Some of you may know about Bob's hospitalization but since I am not sure, this information may be redundant. Bob was in the middle of moving the address book to g-mail from incredimail so I hope I am not missing anyone.

On Saturday, Oct. 13, at about 10:30 am, Bob was taken by ambulance to Valley Medical Emergency. I had thought he might have had a stroke from his actions and slurring of words.

At 2:00 pm he went down for a brain scan and when he came back up he was in a coma. They had given him Ativan because he was too anxious to keep his head still. He did not come out of the coma in the two-three hours which is normal. After several hours they realized he should have been conscious so started to try to revive him.

He coded blue at about 1:30 am and was resuscitated and then a few minutes later coded again. He has been slowly improving over the last two weeks. He was moved from Critical Care to intermediate care and then two days ago to the regular floor. He could track us with his eyes, was totally able to follow a conversation and answer questions with nods. He had considerable nerve damage and they were about to start physical therapy; gentle stretching exercises.

Then last night at about 3:00 am, he coded again and was once again resuscitated. He is responding a little bit, but it does not look good.. As of right now, they think he may have had a heart attack. We are waiting for the latest x-rays. Blood thinners caused internal bleeding, so they had to take him off of them. They are stabilizing his blood pressure with medication, and he is back on a mechanical respirator.

We will continue to update everyone as to his progress. Please pray for him and all of us. The five children have been here with him as much as their work schedules allow. The first week. all five took the entire week off. Spouses were able to get some days off too. Noelle is our message handler - her e-mail is Please pray for him.

Thanks, Priscilla

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Just a quick update, I am leaving to relieve James at the hospital---he spent the night there. I will tonight. I asked people to pray for a miracle and I feel the prayers are being answered. Two nights ago one of his five specialists (Doctors), told me that he has improved much better than they expected him to!! Yesterday they removed Bob from the respirator, he is still on oxygen, but breathing fairly well on his own. He had his third dialysis, the first time for a four hour treatment. He is still on antibiotics for the staph infection and will be for at least a week. He has not spoken yet, but because his throat is so raw, he has been told not to!! His eyes are open fully most of the time and he tracks us constantly and communicates through nods or hand squizes. He naps and sleeps a lot. His blood pressure, pulse, sugar, etc... are in a good range. If I am not too tired, I will update tonight or tomorrow. Thank you for all the prayers, please continue!

Love, Priscilla

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This will be a short update again as I am tired and will go back to the hospital for the night. Bob is a tiny bit better, had his second dialyses today, also a blood transfusion. He has fluttered his eyes about one third open twice today---and tried to track my face. He also had to give the nurse an OK to be shaved and he nodded a yes---that was great news to us!! Thank you, everyone, for all the prayers--keep them coming. I don't know when I will have the energy to return phone calls or messages, but, my personal secretary, Noelle, is on top of things!!---with the e-mails and phone answering--


Yvonne's account of Bob growing up in the Mississippi Delta

Bob Smithhart
Growing Up in the Mississippi Delta

Of the seven siblings in our family, our brother Bob is the oldest. He was born in 1928 between the Great Flood of 1927 which broke the levee which was holding back the waters of the great Mississippi River and the Great Depression of 1929. The levee broke at Greenville where Bob and his young parents lived. His granddad, William Henry Smithhart, brought the family back to Indianola, where they became a sort of compound with my grandfather’s house in the middle and his sons on either side. Our Grandparents had a general store on the outer edge of town. It was in this country-like setting that Bob grew up in a safe haven surrounded by love with siblings and cousins in great abundance.

From the earliest days, he has loved motors and especially cars. My brothers were always working on a car of early vintage. Occasionally, Bob would hear the sound of engines in the sky; and as he looked up, a dream began to form in his heart. Our dad’s storage room behind my grandfather’s store became filled with model planes hanging from the ceiling. Bob and our brother Richard, who is also a Navy trained pilot, spent many happy childhood hours assembling those planes.

When our father died in 1991, Bob recalled for those who were assembled for the service the family history as he remembered it. With so many mouths to feed, a cow was an important animal to our family. Dad taught the first three boys how to tend and milk the cow. He taught them the importance of responsibility, and they each had
paper routes as small boys. When they were in high school, they worked at the Post Office sorting the mail after school. Our parents bought a large grocery store downtown, and the boys worked there after school and in the summer. When our dad had serious surgery, they ran the store with their uncle’s help, so our mother could
stay in the hospital with our father. Most of all, our parents taught us a love for God as foremost in our lives and then a love of country.

Bob went into the Marines as soon as he graduated from high school. When he returned home after his stint of duty, he attended the community college in our area. This was a requirement for going into the naval school in Pensacola, Florida. His training also included an assignment at Corpus Christi, Texas. He received his first squadron assignment at Whidby Island, Washington, in the great Northwest.

After his service in the Navy was completed, he began to fly for United and flew for the rest of his flying years with them. He was very busy with his family and his job which he loved dearly, but he never forgot his deep Southern roots in the Mississippi Delta. He always brought our parents up once a year to enjoy his family and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. On one trip he took them to Knots Berry Farm in California and planned a trip to Hawaii for the 50th Wedding Anniversary. Our mother died that summer, but he persuaded our dad to make the trip.

No matter what kind of struggles he found himself in, he never lost his base with the Lord. At one point in his life, he had a flying club called the Flying Disciples, where he trained missionary pilots to fly into the bush countries of their mission points. He and Priscilla have had a wonderful ministry working with the young Sudanese men that their church supports. He has always loved his church, his pastor, his fellow church members, the youth activities, the music, and his job with the financial aspects of the church.

As an individual, Bob has always been an intelligent, quiet, thoughtful person with many abilities which he has developed for the good of others as well as himself. He knows the sound of a well-tuned engine and loves to work with his hands to achieve that sound. He has a passion for God, his family, friends, and his country.

When I was 25, I became very ill with euremic poisoning and had the death experience. Bob flew across the 3,000 miles chasm to see for himself that I was recovering from the experience. Again and again, he has reached out to help us in our times of need according to this great passion that has filled him.

Isn’t God’s timing perfect? Two weeks ago, God gave Bob the strength to get up from his time of weakness. He ventured out of the house to the grocery with Priscilla and
for short walks around the house. Last week, he drove himself to see his beloved pastor and friend. I believe he wanted his surrender to the Lord to be complete. I also believe that God has blessed him with that peace that passes all earthly understanding.

One day he will rise triumphantly through the skies that have been his second home to his mansion that the Lord has promised him in John 14. There he will find the Lord waiting for him. He mother and dad will be there along with his grandmother who was a tremendous prayer warrior and made such an indelible impression on Bob all his life. What a celebration there will be!

Take comfort in his own words which he shared with me several times over the last few years: “Yvonne, I am so blessed. I am so proud of my family! God has surely blessed me in a great way!” Truly, my brother Bob has lived with a cup that has been running over with the blessings of the Lord.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Update on my Dad

On Sunday morning he went into cardiac arrest. He has been on a respirator since then. His body is dealing with a lot of things - heart failure, kidney failure, diabetes, and he is fighting an infection - we found out yesterday it is staph. He has been in a coma, and on Sunday was non-responsive.

We made the choice on Sunday to not do dialysis - the specialist who came in was afraid it would be too much for his body to handle. So we made a family decision to just wait it out another 24 hours.

Yesterday morning, his body temperature had come down and he was more responsive. His feet are twitching more and his face seems to respond occasionally to voices. But we still can't fully communicate with him. He had two minor surgeries yesterday. One was to insert this thing that allowed all of the different tubes that were going into him to go in through one place on his arm. Consolidate and it goes straight to his heart - so it is more efficient. Then he had this thing inserted in his arm a few weeks/months ago for a therapy he was doing - they're afraid that was actually where the infection started - so last night they removed that.

The family is meeting at the hospital around noon again today to see how much he has improved and see what the doctors say. On Sunday, we were all prepared to lose him. But now we're not sure how much he has really improved. He always used to say he never wanted to be kept alive on machines, so it is finding that point where we know he will actually improve and be able to live off of them.

As you can imagine, it has been a really difficult couple of days. I'm afraid I might be coming down with something (woke up with a scratchy throat) and my Mom said the same thing this morning when I talked to her. I'm sure sitting around in a hospital for the last two days hasn't helped. I'm worried about my Mom - she actually went home to sleep last night, but had been staying at the hospital straight through prior to that. I know she needs us there for her through this. Thankfully, the entire family has been able to take time off work - my brothers who are pilots canceled their trips. My oldest brother, Rick, was able to stay overnight at the hospital last night.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hello Everyone,

Bob is still in a coma, but was responding better today---had a bit more kidney output--blood pressure stabilized almost to normal, and various other positive items. I am too tired to think of the rest. He had two minor surgeries this afternoon/evening and both went very well. Right now I am home to get some sleep and a shower!!! Rick is with him for the night. He is still in the Critical Care unit and is not out of the woods at all, but there is hope. Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes.