Monday, June 29, 2009

From the Memorial Service

Below is the text of the sermon delivered by Pastor Holley at the memorial service for Carroll at St. Luke's and conducted by Pastor Stephen Troisi and Pastor Bob Holley:

At the Memorial Service for Carroll T. Smith
June 27, 2009 – John 14:1-6

We gather today to remember, to give thanks and to seek a sure and certain hope in the midst of our grief. We gather to remember, to give thanks and to hope together.

Let's begin with remembering. Carroll Smith was a Georgia gentleman. That is, a gentleman in the best sense of the word. He welcomed you, befriended you, and presented the best of what a loving family and the wonderful state of Georgia could make him.

Carroll had the unusual hobby of homing pigeons. Visit Carroll and he would point out the pigeon coop and talk about his pigeons. It was a life-long hobby until just recently when his health would no longer allow it. You could say he was for the birds, and he would agree. His birds were so very important to him.

There is a lot more about Carroll. He was a great lover of baseball and so many other sports; or, you could say, he simply loved sports. He loved to play when he could and always to talk sports. A baseball player, a pitcher at that, he let his duty to country lead him away from a promising career that probably would have seen him play professional ball. Instead, he joined the Air Force, though he did play a great deal of baseball in Europe during his time of service.

You could say of Carroll that he was definitely a fanatic. After all, that is the word we shorten to “fan” when speaking of folks who are die hard followers of Georgia football and the Atlanta Braves baseball. He was a fan in the true meaning of the word. I am not sure about God's wisdom to allow Carroll to die during the Braves season as Carroll himself told me they were not doing too well. The Braves could use all the fans they can find, and now they have one that will have to watch with St. Peter from the gates of heaven.

Professionally, Carroll worked in what might be called these days, 'human resources.' Employment was his thing and he served as Employment Superintendent and Deputy Director of Industrial Relations at the shipyard. He was good at his job and always tried to find work for those who sought his help.

“The Dawg,” as he was affectionately called, was considered by some to the unofficial mayor of Summerville. I am sure they said that because Carroll was loved by everybody. A loyal son, brother, father, husband, grandfather, co-worker and friend, Carroll was loved by all of us. He will be missed. He will be missed, not because he was somehow perfect or because he was a baseball fan or because he was good at his job. He will be missed because he was a great friend, the kind loved by all.

And Carroll loved all of you. Whether it was a friend to share a good cigar and a mellow drink with, or family he so appreciated, he loved in return. He made you feel comfortable in best of the Georgia way.

It is little wonder that folks say Carroll was loyal to family and friends. You could feel it in his words, his steady and kind focus on you as you spoke. And with all this remembering, we need to add that he was loyal to our loving God who redeemed him in the cross of Jesus Christ. Loyal Carroll was and especially to God who loves him unconditionally.

Thanks be to God for the amazing grace that saves as the old hymn says. It is in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that God not only forgives all our sin, but graciously gives us life in the kingdom as well. Carroll trusted that truth and as death drew near he loyally kept faith that God gifts us all with life at the kingdom table of Jesus forever.

I remember reading the novel, “Doctor Zhivago.” There is a scene in it where the young doctor, who has just finished his training, has a conversation with his grandmother who is a devout believer in the grace of the cross of Jesus Christ. Zhivago asks his grandmother how she can believe in the resurrection, in the new life given in the cross. Her answer? Wisely, the grandmother tells her doctor grandson that through death we are born into a new life. Let me paraphrase what she says, “I did not know what was happening when my mother gave birth and I entered this life we have now. God can and will give us birth into a new life that we cannot yet even imagine. If God did it before, God can do it again.”

Indeed, we thank God today for the life we have in the cross, the new life at the kingdom table of Jesus. This life began for Carroll at his baptism. It continues now at his death. Thanks be to God for the new life Carroll and all of us have. Jesus is indeed the way, the truth and life as he says in the gospel reading today. Carroll loyally walked that way. Thanks be to God!

And it is precisely this loyalty, this faith, that gives us comfort and hope as we mourn. Our hope is the same as it was for Carroll, in the cross of Jesus. Our hope is in the cross where God is reconciling all through the unconditional love God has for us. How blessed we are that we do not grieve without hope. The gift of God is the comfort and hope of the cross.

Perhaps the final verse of the hymn we sang earlier says it better than I can:

He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same;
what joy this blest assurance gives;
I know that my Redeemer lives!

As we give thanks to God and commend Carroll to God's eternal care, may these words give us comfort and hope: “I know that my Redeemer lives!” Amen.

· Pastor Robert F. Holley

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The End

This was a short-lived blog, much as my life with Carroll. It was way too short.
The blog started on May 14th as a way to update family and friends during Carroll's hospital stay at Summerville Medical Center. I thought it would be a short-lived blog because I thought he would recover during that stretch in the hospital and then go home -- and we'd live happily ever-after.

Such was not the case.

His life on earth ended and, thus, so does this blog.

Carroll was such an interesting and multi-faceted person that I could probably write about him for days and days and days. However, I'm shutting down this blog. (Note: A tree will be planted in Summerville in memory of Carroll; I will post that info when the date is set, but it should be posted on this blog as well as on mine.)

I've just added a post about him on my regular blog; that link is below.

Thanks to all of you who have helped care for him, who have prayed for him and who have just been there in so many ways when we needed you. We have appreciated your comments here as well.

God bless!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Synopsis: Carroll's Last Few Weeks

Carroll Tyndell Smith

The Gentleman from Georgia

Over the last several months, Carroll had been feeling somewhat weak and tired, and was frequently short of breath. He thought it was because of a heart problem. After a visit with Dr. Crawford, open heart surgery was scheduled for May 19th to replace the aortic valve.

Just before that date, though, he was hospitalized at Summerville Medical Center with pneumonia and remained there for 9 days, then went home for a few days. During a follow-up appointment with Dr. Handshoe on June 1st, we were told he had Stage 3B lung cancer. It was in both lungs and in the fluid around the lungs. We left the doctor’s office and went to Waffle House for a late breakfast. He said one thing he did not want was to linger. He was not afraid of cancer; he was afraid of lingering. Even so, we all thought he had several months ahead of him.

The very next day, Carroll, Sherry and her mom went to Garden City and spent 5 days at the beach. He sat on the balcony, looking out at the ocean and said it was the best breathing he had done in a long time. He also said it was the best sleep he had had in quite a while. He got to spend an evening with Becky during that time also.

Returning home, he continued to have trouble breathing & was hospitalized at MUSC on June 16th following an appointment with Dr. Steinberg. On Thursday he had a procedure in which he was catheterized and a balloon was used to stretch the aortic valve, making it easier for him to breathe. That afternoon, he was breathing much better. By the next day, though, he was on oxygen. He came home on Saturday the 20th but was on oxygen 24/7.

He had visits and quality time with Lisa, Chuck & Pat, John, Vic & Edie and their family.

At about 2:00 Monday night/Tuesday morning, he said he needed to go to ER. He was transported to Summerville Medical Center and then transported a few hours later to MUSC’s critical care unit. There was a blood clot in his lungs. Because of the cancer, the doctors could not operate. He continued to weaken.

On Wednesday afternoon, there was a prayer service in his room by Pastor Briner. Several family members were present: Vic, Edie, Jeff, Laura, Courtney, Lisa, Susan, Pam, Kelly, Chelsey, Whitney and Sherry.

We all had time for some good-byes; Chelsey even made him chuckle and smile a few times. She’s the one who gave him the name “Poppy.”

Sherry slept in the hospital bed with Carroll Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. He wrapped his arms around her. Vic and Edie slept in the hospital room also, although Vic said he couldn’t sleep because of Sherry’s snoring.

Thursday morning, at 9:30, Carroll peacefully and gently slipped away, gripping Sherry’s hand as she said “Peace be with you, Carroll.”

Carroll was a friend to many and he was loyal to his friends. He was a classy gentleman who called Savannah and Summerville his hometowns.

His friends are placing an Atlanta Braves shirt with the number “1” and the name “C. Smith” on it and hanging it in O’Lacy’s.

In the near future, a tree obtained by friend John Clark will be planted in Summerville in Carroll’s memory.

Friday, June 26, 2009


If you're in the area, feel free to drop by Carroll's house tonight between 6 pm and 8 pm. Nothing is "planned." It's just a time to share memories of good times with Carroll and it is VERY casual.

Services are tomorrow at 3 pm at St. Luke's Lutheran Church with a reception following in Fellowship Hall.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Dawg's Days Are Over . . .

The Dawg's days are over - at least his earthly days.

Carroll died very peacefully this morning at about 9:30. I've lost someone I loved so very much and I am so grateful for the time we had together. We enjoyed each other's company - playing trivia, working crosswords, being with friends, worshiping at St. Luke's.

I will always miss him but there are so many wonderful times to remember. He is at peace.

Wednesday Night -- Is That What This Is?

Carroll has been surrounded this afternoon. Family members and friends have visited, including Vic, Edie, Courtney, Jeffrey, Laura, Lisa, Kelly, Susan, Pam, Chelsey and Whitney. Pastor Briner came by prayer and a blessing with Carroll and me. She then did a prayer service with the whole family.

There have been lots of tears today and tonight but also some chuckles.

No further measures are being taken except to keep Carroll comfortable.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday Afternoon

Docs hope to do a tap around 3:30 or 4 to drain fluid from Carroll's lungs. The estimate is that the procedure will take about 30 minutes. Not sure yet where they will do that - Ashley River Tower or the old hospital. That was one of the questions earlier.

Barely After Noon - Monday

Carroll has been sleeping a whole lot, partly because of the carbon dioxide in his lungs. The doctors were wondering about his stage of alertness. Well, they just did another ABG test (see previous posts about how extremely painful this test is) and found out he is more alert than they thought. It hurt and he let them know it.

Late Morning Update - Wednesday

Carroll is on the BIPAP machine right now. It's much like the CPAP I use at night for sleep apnea. The CPAP is a big help for me and makes a tremendous difference, although I don't like it. I don't think Carroll likes the BIPAP either, but it is making a difference in the sound of his breathing. Of course, he hasn't like anything they've attached to him, put on him or around him in the last 24 - 30 hours.

Because of the level of carbon dioxide in his lungs, the BIPAP is being used to normalize his breathing. This will be used for one hour and then we'll know more. That should be at around 12:15 when they remove the BIPAP. Then the doctors will confer and talk with us later. They have to wait for the results before they confer, so I'm hoping to hear something from them around 1:00 or so.

One of the oncologists came in. They will not start any type of chemo or anything else while he is in the hospital. What they do depends on how he is when he is released.

I got such a good night's sleep in the room with Carroll last night that it's a wonder anyone else in the hospital slept at all. Some of the staff folks have already mentioned me snoring!!!

Wednesday Morning

Carroll got a good night's sleep last night - at least after midnight. Before that time, he was agitated, complaining and saying he wasn't comfortable and couldn't breathe. With the help of Benadryl and Mirapex (the latter for his restless leg problems) he was able to sleep in a recliner. He didn't wake up until about 10 AM and then not completely; he still wants to sleep, which is good - at least in some ways.

There is much more fluid build-up in his lungs. His team of doctors is consulting with the pulmonologists about draining the fluid some time today. This is the same procedure that was done over at Summerville Medical in May. It helps tremendously but only until the fluid builds up again.

A BIPAP has just been brought into his room; this will help breathe more easily. Based on the new ABG test done this morning, he is retaining a lot of gas (carbon dioxide) in his lungs, which is not good. The BIPAP will help him with this. Annette, the RT, said he would feel like he is in a wind tunnel while using it.

That's all of the news for right now. We're still in CCU at 10:45 A.M.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guess Where We Are??????

It has been a L-O-N-G day. It started at 2 a.m. when Carroll told me he needed to go to the hospital. He called EMS and was transported to Summerville Medical Center (SMC) with me following in the car.

In the emergency room, Dr. Greaves told us it might be congestive heart failure, but he later ruled that out. After some tests and phone calls with Carroll's primary physician, Dr. Bolster, it was decided that Carroll should be transported to MUSC's Critical Care Unit. By this time, it was about 4 a.m., I think. It really scared the fool out of me when I was asked if I knew - just in case anything went wrong - if Carroll wanted to be kept alive by a ventilator! Well, I knew what he and I have talked about, but I didn't want to be the only one to make that decision, nor should I have been. I called Carroll's son and daughter-in-law -- Vic and Edie. Soon, they and their daughter, Courtney, were at SMC also.

We all left SMC around 5:30-ish a.m., with Carroll being transported by the Critical Care ambulance. Vic rode in the front.

I'm not saying any of us drive fast, but Edie, Courtney and I all beat the ambulance to MUSC.

Because Carroll was put in CCU, we had a long, anxious wait before we could see him. Around 8:30 or so, we got to take turns seeing him. By that time, Carroll's grandson, Jeffrey, was also there.

The CCU unit is what we just left a few days ago following his valvoplasty.

It was later in the morning when we learned that Carroll has a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in his lungs. Because of several other problems, surgery was not an option. He was put on blood thinner to prevent the clot from getting bigger and with the hopes that it will dissolve.

At SMC, Carroll had a couple of things happen that he couldn't stand. For example, an ABG test was done. This is where they test the arterial blood gases or something like that. I can't remember exactly but I've had it done once and I don't ever, ever, ever want to have it done again. It is the most painful thing I know of. I'd rather have 20 children at one time than to have that done again. It's awful. He hated it -- and they had already given him morphine when he had this done.

He was also catheterized. I don't have to tell you whether or not he liked that!

He had a CAT scan at SMC and a chest x-ray at MUSC. He was hooked up to all kinds of tubes and machinery.

After hearing from the doctors, including Drs. Powers, Townsend, Schreiner and Jenkins, I made a quick trip back to Summerville for a shower and to pack clothes for several days and nights at the hospital.

When I returned, I walked in with Pastor Briner from our church, St. Luke's. We had a nice chat while waiting for about 20 minutes to get to see Carroll.

Not long after she left, Carroll had more visitors, limited to two at a time in CCU: Lisa, Susan, Joanne, Kelly, Pam and Chelsey.

Dr. Steinberg came by in the afternoon, as did Dr. Townsend and Dr. Schreiner. They have all conferred with each other and with the oncologists to see what treatment is next.

Surprisingly, one of them told me they are considering letting Carroll go home tomorrow (Wednesday,) That was another shock!!!! The doc said they feel that Carroll will improve within 12 - 24 hours and then stabilize. They will likely keep him on blood thinner for several weeks and have PT at home.

Isn't it wonderful that he might be able to come home so quickly? The biggest problem will be making sure that he doesn't get worn out by phone calls and/or visitors. He will need lots of rest.

He has also suffered a minor vision problem and the cause has not yet been determined. It may be something that resolves on its own.

It's now 9 p.m. They said they would probably give Carroll Benadryl to help him sleep. They must have, because he fell asleep during the Braves game!!!

(PS - If you see a few typos in this post, I'm surprised that there are only a few! I'm only half-awake.)