I’m happy to announce that I have secured a date, time and location for the Celebration of Brad’s Life and Memorial. The timing corresponds to the decades-old schedule of our annual St. Pats party – the first Saturday in front of St. Pats; March 16, 2013 from 6pm – 9pm at the Staggering Ox in Helena.
I do hope you will be able to join us to offer a story or memory you have of Brad. I’d like for this event to be the type of celebration Brad would love to have – good food and drink, music, dancing and fellowship. And, since it’s close to St Pat’s, I think “green” is the appropriate and festive color!
If you have any pictures or images you’d like to share, you can send them to my email. I’d like to assemble a video set to music to play at the party.
Over the next week, I’ll be working with a couple hotels to secure a block of rooms for those coming in from out of town. When I get those details worked out, I’ll post that too.
I’m looking forward to being back home in Montana to see our family and friends. You’ve all be such a big part of our journey this past year, I hope this celebration will do many things, an opportunity for emotional healing, acceptance and renewal. know it will be for me.
Thank you again for all of your warm, loving thoughts and condolences. I was so very touched by each one and had the opportunity of envisioning the shared memories.
What I’ve been up to.
These past two months I’ve been busying myself by sorting through boxes and boxes trying to set up my new house. And, as you can imagine, after sharing the past 26 years of my life with Brad, each box, no matter how obscure, had some kind of memory for me. The process, while somewhat difficult emotionally, has also been a very healing process.
Max and I have developed a routine that seems to work. He’s been great company. Although, he can still create mischief when I’m not home – like eating several boxes of chewing gum, or fruit and nut trail mix bars, or getting into a bag of almonds, or getting into the garbage. With each incident, I’m learning what I need to be doing to avoid this behavior. I guess he’s the one who’s teaching me – old dog can teach new tricks!
I’m back to work with Special Olympics Montana (SOMT) as the Healthy Athletes Coordinator. Since my work with SOMT has always been done remotely, this is a good arrangement. I’m glad to be doing something that I believe in and working with people whom I value, respect and admire and are my friends.
New marketing and communications projects are beginning; I’m learning about mobile media marketing and hope to put into practice to promote Susie’s skin care business. She’s invited me to become her business partner! I’m excited to do what I’ve been trained to do ,and to do it for someone I love and believe in. Several years ago when Susie and I traveled to Kuwait, the idea of us working together first emerged; now is the time!
I feel so blessed to be where I’m at right now.
Today, February 14th my Aunt Eleanor, on her 80th birthday, passed away. She’d been ill for some time and said she was ready, yet wanted to make it to 80, and she did! She was a woman ahead of her time – devoted single mother, and a successful businesswoman too. I do hope that she and Brad find each other – they just might share a few laughs! We will remember you. Rest in Peace, Aunt Eleanor.
More info to follow about the celebration and activities.
Bradley Brink Smith was born on March 18, 1953 in Dodge City, KS. He passed away with dignity on December 6, 2012 at Hospice Care of Boulder and Broomfield Counties, Colorado. In October 2011, Brad suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke that left him with paralysis and expressive aphasia. He was on the road to recovery, but in October 2012, he suffered subsequent strokes from which he was unable to recover. Brad had a zest for life that fed his curiosity to live, learn and love. His kind nature was compassionate, generous, and engaging. Brad had a keen ability to convey information, which ignited his desire to mentor and teach others. Whether he was giving a presentation, having a brief chat, engaging in an in-depth debate, or dancing “like no one was watching”, Brad was always memorable.
Helena Montana was Brad’s home for the past 23 years; the longest Brad had lived anywhere in his life. As a youth, Brad and his family moved with his father’s occupation before settling in Gahanna, Ohio. Brad became an Eagle Boy Scout, graduated from Gahanna Lincoln High School in 1971, and later joined the Army where he played bassoon in the US Army Band in Heidelberg, Germany, and was a member of the US Army Centennial Band that toured Europe. While in Europe, Brad became an EMT. He earned his BS in Psychology from the Ohio State University and Nursing degree from Columbus Technical Institute. He practiced as a trauma ICU/ER Registered Nurse and worked at several mid-Ohio hospitals until moving to Ennis Montana to become the Director of Nursing at the Madison County Nursing Home in 1989. After relocating to Helena, Brad continued his nursing career as an ICU Nurse at St. Peters Community Hospital and taught Advanced Cardiac Life Support for well over 15 years.
Then he found his true passion in the realm of Computer Security. As a strong believer in certifications, Brad pushed himself to learn as much as he could about information security and became the first RN and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) in the world. Brad believed defense was the best way for people to be safe in the cyber world – if you know what the hackers know, you can protect your computer and your information. Brad was the director and owner of Computer Institute of the Rockies in Helena Montana, the Director of National Cyber Defense Force and a frequent lecturer, director, and keynote presenter at information security conferences across the globe, such as DEFCON, CSI, INTEROP, HIMSS, NETsec, Hacker Halted, COSAC and CIScon. He was a mentor to the Department of Defense DC3 Civilian World Champions in 2010 and served as a private practice Informatics Nurse focused on rural and frontier healthcare.
Brad will be forever known to the hacker community as “The Nurse”. He volunteered his services as a nurse at various security conferences where he could help those in need. Brad was always ready to lend a helping hand, offer a kind word and his engaging friendly smile. In keeping with his desire to continue helping others, Brad’s body was donated to Science Care for scientific research.
Brad is survived by his devoted, loving wife of 26 years, Nina (Melching) Smith, parents: Harry E Smith and Bethene E (Brink) Smith, brother Harry E Smith Jr. (Kerri Thomson), and Max (his Weimaraner). Brad is preceded in death by his faithful Weimariners, Mia, Gus, and Ret.
In keeping with the decades-old tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of Brad’s life will take place in mid March in Helena Montana. Brad’s fun, lively, and engaging spirit will be missed, yet he will be remembered fondly by all who knew him and loved him. There’s no doubt Brad left an indelible mark on those he met, so please share an experience you had with Brad at (www.bradthenurse.com
The family wishes that donations be given to Hackers For Charity (HFC) to support "HFC Brad Smith Computer Training Center" in Uganda East Africa, http://www.hackersforcharity.org/donate
Brad made a peaceful transition to the next realm on the morning of December 6, 2012.
More than a month ago, Brad had surgery to replace his skull with a prosthetic medical grade plastic. The surgery went well. The doctors were all very pleased. Then Brad began to have seizures and subsequently suffered two additional hemorrhages - strokes. The first of which was on the right side of his brain, almost a mirror image of the very first one, affecting mobility on his left side. The next was a hemorrhage in his left temporal lobe. At first, Brad was responsive, and could track with his eyes and tried to communicate, but he has been declining since. He is currently at a long-term acute hospital north of Longmont, near Loveland, CO. The VA has graciously provided for us once again.
Monday, we had a family meeting to address the next steps. The doctor has seen no improvements in the two weeks since Brad arrived here, and the likelihood of him ever being able to live on his own without 24/7 assistance is next to zero. Life for Brad would be in some kind of a nursing home facility. There's no quality in that and he would never want that kind of existence (I couldn't let that happen either). It was up to me to make a very difficult decision, one of the hardest ever in my life. I chose comfort care, which will honor his wishes and avail him a dignified end. We agreed to have all medications stopped and feeding tube turned off with the exception of pain medications as needed. Now it's just a matter of time. His parents and brother (and wife) will arrive in Denver on Wednesday to be with us.
On another sad note, our female Weimariner, Mia suffered a GDV - gastric dilatation volvulus - a condition afflicting large dogs, especially those with large chests – an accumulation of gas in the stomach and a malpositioning of the stomach with obstruction, basically, her stomach turned over on itself creating a knot that bloated her stomach. Although surgery was an option, they gave a 25% recovery, so I chose to end her suffering rather than put her through the trauma of surgery. She passed away Sunday afternoon. I guess she's going to be Brad's spirit guide - what a beautiful angel she is. They'll soon be together.
The only thing I'm able to do is think about one day at a time. It's getting harder and harder to get out of bed to face the day, and I wouldn't if I didn’t have the love and support of Susie and David (sister and brother-in-law).
In moments of clarity, I reflect on all that's happened in these past twelve months. Last October, I thought my life with Brad was over. I held onto hope that Brad would recover, and focused each and every day on helping him make that happen. What a journey it has been; four months in Miami where Brad went from clinging to life to propelling himself in a wheelchair up and down the hallway. Another three months in Helena where Brad was getting rehab services and could play poker, dominoes, and electronic games on a tablet. In May, after having a seizure, Brad spent some time in the local VA hospital where again he began to show progress and was recommended and accepted to the VA in Denver for advanced rehab services. So, from June to early July, Brad worked at PT, OT and Speech until he reached a plateau. The VA enabled him to move to the Community Living Center at the facility in downtown Denver where he stayed until his surgery. While at the CLC, Brad and I spent a lot of quality time together. We'd go out for walks, sit in the park, go for coffee, have a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants nearby and just lay in his bed and watch TV. Brad was beginning to be more expressive, despite of the aphasia; he understood subtle humor and would laugh aloud. He got really adept at answering the phone - I'd call him often, especially when I wasn't able to get to Denver to see him. Sometimes he sounded just the old Brad - voice clear and strong. I'd tell him about my day, and he'd let me know what he was doing too (much of which I couldn’t understand, but he said what he said with inflection). He would tell me he loved me. Often I would leave for the evening and feel so much love for Brad and for all that we had shared that day, I was giddy.
The whole time Brad was at the CLC, I was busy making a home for us. Through Brad's VA benefits we were able to secure a VA loan and purchased a beautiful home in Longmont, near my sister. The home needed some modifications, but was nearly move-in ready. Along the way, we decided to make more modifications to make it even more accessible. It was coming along nicely as the plan was for the house to be ready soon after Brad had the surgery. I wasn't prepared for the turn of events, and felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under my feet and shattered my heart.
While it has been anything but easy, I continue to seek strength and courage from my Lord and Savior. I continue to pray for Brad and a painless passing. And I give thanks every day for all the blessings, love and guidance. I am grateful to feel the love and support for us from across the globe. I know that I am not alone in my grief, as Brad has touched so many people who love him and will mourn his passing.
I know we have not been on this journey alone, for I've invited you all to be a part of it. One never knows what's in store, and the best we can do is live each and every day as if it could be our last. I believe Brad knew this, and that's why he loved life and told me every day that he loved me.
As I sit with him holding his hand, I will try to remember only the beautiful memories that we shared and to reassure him. I'll be alright. And that it's going to be okay - Mia is there to guide him.
Blessing to you all. Your love and prayers have lifted us up, and will sustain me through this new chapter in the circle of life.
Nina and Brad
Max and Mia
Brad has suffered from several setbacks since the reconstructive skull surgery in October. It became apparent that the seizures he had were accompanied by two serious additional strokes. Sad to say, Brad's condition has deteriorated even more since the surgery. He is resting comfortably in a very nice facility near Loveland, near where the new house is located. He has become less responsive over the past weeks. There is not much hope for recovery at this point, but he seems at peace and does comprehend his surroundings at times.
On another very very sad note - tragedy struck the Smith household again Sunday Nov.26th. Sweet Mia, Nina's big female Weimaraner, suffered a "turned stomach", which is common for large breed dogs, as well as horses and other large mammals. It's a very tough situation, and very hard to treat successfully. And, it was not in the cards for poor Mia. She suffered and the veterinarians tried to save her, but it was not meant to be. Mia died that day. Brad and Nina have lost another great companion.
Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Brad had successful surgery on Friday to replace the bone flap. He is now stable and waking up. In fact, they wake him every hour for a neuro check and he’s following commands and moving his left side. However, in recovery, Brad suffered several gran mal seizures and another stroke on the other side, the area the affects mobility on his left. Brad is at the University of Colorado Medical Center – one of the best training hospitals in the country. Test are underway to determine the cause of the stroke. His parents and brother arrived yesterday. I’m optimistic and praying for the best and just taking it one day at time.
Tues. 10/31: Brad on his way to the OR to have the vent removed and a trach and feeding tube put in. He's been breathing on his own for several days (w/CPAP - air assist) but to help speed his speech recovery he'll get the trach. I'm sure he'll like having all the tubes out of his mouth. Praying for smooth procedures and healing.
Brad back from OR. All good! He's resting comfortably and am certain he'll be much happier without something stuck down this throat. I'm relieved that he did so well. Now, it's time for some rest and hopefully, he'll be more alert and try to talk soon. The short term plan is for him to remain here for at least a week longer and then to a Long Term Acute Care Center. there's one only 20 minutes from Longmont, so the commute will be shorter, and then as he gets stronger, I hope to bring him home. It's quite likely I'll be looking for some home health assistance for the transition, but it might be longer too. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. Much love, Nina
The move was monstrous! We rented a 24 foot truck and with the help of some fabulous friends, and under the direction of brother Jim, a cargo load master for the Air Force filled it to the brim. With so much stuff yet to go, we had to get another 17 foot to get the rest. It was great to have so much help and support to get us underway. Lindsey, Jim and David were great! In the time that we to get this all accomplished, they helped me shed some things (quickly) that would no longer serve us. That was hard but necessary (or we would have needed 3 trucks!!). The next tougher job for the boys was driving the distance from Helena to Longmont. We pulled out on Sunday, September 30th and got as far as Sheridan Wyoming that night. Finally arrived in Longmont around 6pm on the 1st (also my birthday) safe and sound!
Along the route, I contacted a guy on Craig’s List to unload the truck because everything was going into the basement, and at $65/hour for two men, it was money well spent. Jim and Lindsey thanked me! These guys did a great job – making isles between boxes and putting things in designated areas.
Finding things amongst it all is still a challenge, so one day I just went through all the boxes and put them in some order that I could live with for the time being. Now it’s much easier to know where stuff is by room, but I’m still looking for things and probably will for a while yet.
The dogs are adjusting fairly well as guests at Susie and David’s place. They’re fascinated by Chester, their Maine Coon kitty. Mia really wants to meet him, but we haven’t gone there just yet. Max is adjusting to his bark deterrent collar (citronella sprays when he barks). Each day we go to the house and they hang out while I’m working there. David, bless his heart, feeds them every morning (he’s an early riser) and has been getting better acquainted with them. There are two dog parks nearby so we go for a while and they stiff and romp. I’m amazed how well behaved all the dogs are at the park – no barking or fighting – neutral territory is the key.
The floor was laid while we were gone, and it looks amazing. Since we still had work to do in finishing the walls, moving electrical outlets, texturing and now painting, I asked the flooring folks if we could have more time in the house before they did the finish (sanding and sealing). It worked out well because the owner of the company was heading to Mexico to help build a school and would be gone for two weeks. So, that worked out for us all.
The house has been transformed and is feeling like our home. I’ve been taking pictures to show Brad and keep him in the loop in the progress. I call him several times each day to let him know what we’re doing. He’s very anxious to get home too!
At long last, nearly 12 months from the initial surgery, Brad will be getting the bone in his skull replaced with a medical plastic. The surgery is taking place this Friday. The procedure (Crainioplasty) will take several hours as they have to screw the plate into his skull. We’re both a little nervous about it, yet trying to maintain a very positive outlook. If you can, please say a prayer for us and the surgeons for a successful operation. Brad will remain in the VA hospital for a few days after, and then within two weeks, we should be able to bring him home, finally!
Have to go now – back to the house for more painting and then to Denver to spend a few hours with Brad.
Blessings and Much love,
Nina & Brad
P.S. If you wish to send a card or note to Brad, here’s his address at the VA:
% Community Living Center
VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System
1055 Clermont Street
Denver, CO 80220-3808
Nina C. Smith
Note from Janet: Nina and her brothers and brother-in-law successfully packed up Bran and Nina's entire household and pulled out headed for a new life in Colorado today. Their address is 1766 Lincoln Street, Longmont, CO, 80501.
The closing last Monday was a breeze. I started removing carpeting and flooring on Tuesday and walls started coming down on Thursday. We had a few setbacks with the kitchen and had to hold off until an electrician could get to us (today) and we also had a plumbing issue to resolve. I had three solatubes installed to add more natural sunlight and wow, does it make a difference. The flooring (hardwood) was delivered today and they’ll install it the rest of this week.
My brothers Lindsey and Jim arrived tonight from Ohio to be here to help with the big stuff – driving, packing and driving. Tomorrow we’ll go visit with Brad and to get ready for our drive. Then we’re all (David too) off to Helena bright and early on Wednesday. It’s a chance for them all to see Montana (by way of Wyoming). On Thursday, we’ll begin organizing and packing – starting with the garage. The plan is to be ready to load the moving truck on Saturday and take out Sunday morning and begin unloading on Monday, October 1. We’ll have nearly a week to do the finish work and paint before Lin and Jim have to leave. After that the flooring guys will seal the floor. So, by the next weekend, I can start moving things in.
If anyone is available for an hour or two, and interested, we’ll begin loading the truck after noon on Saturday (September 29). With enough people, we can do an assembly line load out and get the truck loaded in no time. If you’re unable to help, just stop by to say hello/goodbye.
Boxes, packing materials, tape are all welcome (and needed).
While I’m looking forward to finally getting settled, the goodbye’s are going to be hard. Helena has been our home for over 23 years. We’ve met and loved so many good people in that time. Yet, circumstances change, and time marches on. The next new chapter of our lives is beginning.
Blessings and Much love,