A long hand written letter penned by my brother Terry was found in his apartment in Toledo, Ohio shortly after his death. My mother and my sister along with myself wanted to share this letter with the world hoping that it would possibly help someone that is going through the same trials and addictions that my brother suffered after many years in the music business. The letter was titled, "The Hardest Thing That I Have Ever Written". I hope this helps someone out there that is experiencing the same things my brother in his short life of 52 years.
Terry Smith passed away on November 20, 1999 at the age of 52 about ten days or so after he underwent a colonoscopy in Toledo, Ohio. During the procedure his colon was punctured unbeknownst to him and he was sent home by the doctors at MCO hospital because he had no health insurance. He died about 10 days after he was discharged from the hospital.
Here is the letter that we found in his apartment and we want to share it hoping that it may help someone.
"The Hardest Thing I Have Ever Written" - By Terry Smith (found in his apartment in 1999)
My Testimony In Jesus Christ.
I grew up in Kentucky the first seven years of my life. My mother and father were God-fearing, church-going people who raised their children in a good Christian home and atmosphere.
Was our life a Shangri-La, where everything was just perfect and nothing ever went wrong because my father ran the aisles of the church shouting in the spirit or because my mother sang specials in the pulpit "Proclaiming the Glory of God?" Far from it. We were not the "Father Knows Best" or the "Leave It To Beaver" family. There were problems and obstacles in our "not so white-picket fence" lives.
Through the hard times I vaguely remember my mother and father never faltered. Their faith in God sustained our family, for he said "My grace is sufficient," and the he would "supply all our needs according to his riches in glory." Our family always did have what we seemed to need. A roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothes on our backs no matter how meager. But the thing I remember most was the love and closeness we all shared. And I do believe it was because God was the center of our home.
Things changed, as I grew older, we moved a lot until we finally settled in Ohio. Toledo, Ohio to be exact. My father went ahead and found work up north. His reasoning being that "He didn't want his boys to work in the coal mines" as he had done. He sent for us and we got to ride the train to Toledo to meet him. For a little 8 year old hillbilly boy, let me tell you, I thought that was just about as good as it gets.
From that day, my memories tend to be a little fuzzy but it seemed that as we settled into city living, things seemed to start moving faster and somehow I feel now, that God was kinda put on the back burner, just kinda simmering, because my dad had taken to drink and mother and him used to argue and fight a lot. We still found time to go to church every Easter all decked-out in our new wardrobes, then from there to the Big Boy restaurant to eat and then to the Toledo zoo, it became a ritual for a while. The same format year after year as I recall. It was family time and it was good fun but something was different. Things had changed, or was it me? Now, I know it was me that was changing, I was becoming a teenager. I didn't realize I was drifting away from my roots of Christian upbringing. I went to church now only to meet girls. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I didn't see the snare in my path. I forgot about God. ("I had left God
simmering on the back burner.")
My brother and I no longer played music in church. Now we had formed a Rock n' Roll band and were going to give the
Beatles a run for their money. Through sock-hops, teen towns and battles of the bands, our popularity grew and we were signed to a recording contract. At seventeen, I had graduated high school, was married, and was working at a coca-cola bottling company, and I was going to be a recording artist. Well that was just about as good as it gets! ("And God was on the Back Burner - Simmering.")
Jesus said, "For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be that enter in thereat." I had chosen to go my own way. I had entered and was traveling the "Broad-way" so that by age 20 I was divorced through adultery. I had taken up drugs and alcohol, and now the recording contract was history and my job was in jeopardy. But, I was constantly in my mother's prayers.
By age 21 or so, I had been discharged from the naval reserve never seeing active duty due to a "back injury" which to this day has never plagued me physically, but mentally the nagging thoughts of dishonesty are present.
I took my father's advice to do something with my art training and landed a job with a department store in merchandise
presentation, and I continued playing in Rock N' Roll bands at night in area nightclubs. I was married for the second
time to a wonderful lady that adored me which didn't matter to me. I had plenty of women groupies and continued my
adulterous ways. Drug use was becoming less commonplace for me now and alcohol was tightening its control for my
dependency. I'd drink all night at the bar while playing in the band and get home around 3:00 am, sleep a few hours and be at my job by 8:00 am. But not without having a few beers for breakfast, which became my routine now. The snare had gripped me so subtlety that I never heard the trap spring shut.
So here I was drinking my every waking moment, having affairs, smoking grass, fighting with my wife and proclaiming in a loud Rock n' Roll voice at the club a song by a group, "The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown," which began with lyrics; "I am the God of Hell-Fire and I bring you... Fire" with the theatrics of my head on fire, flames shooting from my hands, and smoke billowing from the stage amid the blasting guitars and drums to the finale of my appearing to be "burned alive" at the showsend each night. ("And God was on the back-burner and the heat was increasing.") And, I know my mother was praying.
When I turned 25 nothing had changed dramatically in my life. I'd moved from merchandise presentation into advertising for another retail store. I was with wife number 3, didn't play in a band, we were buying a home. I had given up my womanizing. But, my drinking was still ever present. My mother had once approached me with the question, "Do you think you're an alcoholic?" My reply was, "Of course not, I only drink beer." To me an alcoholic was a skid-row kind of person, unshaven, dirty clothes and drinking from a paper bag in a dark alley somewhere. Not me. No siree.
After five and one-half years of marriage to wife number 3, I thought well, maybe things are starting to look up. But, it wasn't meant to be. If you sow the wind youre gonna reap the whirlwind. You see... God forgive me, the woman I had married, (wife 3) was pregnant with my child while I was still married to wife number 2. So, we opted for the easy way out. Abortion. The thought today just tears away at my very soul and brings tears of shame to my innermost heart. After my soon to be wife, had gotten the abortion, and I had divorced wife number 2, we then married and we tried to conceive. But we were not allowed the joy because of our disobedience. She wound up having an affair with my best friend. We divorced, I lost my house, went bankrupt and I moved into an efficiency apartment while still maintaining my advertising job and my habit, which grew as the whirlwind increased.
When I was 33 years old having worked for my employer for eight years, the company suddenly went bankrupt. Now on
unemployment compensation I had more time to be with my best drinking buddy, myself. I drifted from job to job leaving my interest in art behind to pursue my new career as a manager or maintenance man for apartment complexes. I got paid a salary, my rent and utilities were furnished and more important, I got to drink on the job. The womanizing was back with a plus this time. After the bout with crabs and venereal warts, I caught gonorrhea. ("And God was on the back-burner and steam began to form.")
During this period of my life I ran into job difficulties and was unemployed and here in my thirties I was forced to ask for help from mom and dad. They sheltered me rent-free while I did odd jobs and looked for work. I was getting desperate, nearing rock bottom. I used to own a 357-magnum pistol but I sold it. For I feared the thoughts that Satan was putting in my head. Deep down I still had a shred of biblical teachings and beliefs that carried me through.
I soon found another job and another woman. A Catholic woman. Now I do not believe in the Catholic ways of worship but I do believe God sent this woman into my life to give me a sign that he had not forsaken me. I started going to prayer meetings with her and found myself playing guitar in their gatherings but, this was not how I was raised and taught. However God chose this instance to touch my life. The Holy Spirit began convicting me, until I could no longer ignore his call. One night around 10:00 pm I walked the parking lot of a nearby shopping center praying and crying out to God to forgive me and save me from my hell bound ways. I recall looking at the time later and discovered I had been walking and praying for almost two hours. I asked God if he had heard my prayer and a breeze blew in my face. There was no wind that night. I knew that the Lord had saved me and set me free of my past.
I began attending a local Church of God, reading the Bible and listening to Bible teaching tapes, but I continued drinking alcohol. I prayed about it but I couldn't stop. I was an alcoholic; I went through a Rehab center for a month. As soon as I was released, I stopped on my way home and bought beer.
I remember one incident in which I approached one of the church elders to ask how I could stop smoking. He said, "Don't you think you should address your alcohol problem first?" He knew. He told me he had smelled it on me. ("And God was on the back burner and the pot began to boil.")
So here I am a born-again, baptized, church going Christian still walking the carnal path of the world. I heard a tape
by Chuck Swindoll once where he said, "There's no sadder or lonelier person on earth than the carnal Christian who chooses to walk out of the will of God. How true. I had my own answer for the problem. You guessed it. A new job and wife #4. I truly loved her and God blessed our marriage with a job where we could work together managing a mobile home park in Florida.
Finally, things seemed to be going good for me. I had a wonderful wife, a great job, even new furniture and car, which I managed to acquire with money illegally obtained by insurance fraud. My wife was unaware of my past but she soon questioned my abuse of alcohol. She was puzzled as to how one could drink from morning till bedtime and yet function, not appearing drunk. I gave the same denial when she asked me if I was an "alcoholic." I replied, "I only drink beer and on top of that I drink at home, I don't hang out in bars." This was said rather loudly due to a mood swing. Even I had noticed them. Anything, even something simple could set me off ranting and raving.
After two years in Florida her father had taken ill at age 80 and we moved back to Ohio to be near her family. We stayed with the same company and they transferred us to Toledo as a management team in another mobile home park. My work performance began to falter. I was constantly on edge bickering with everyone including family members, and most important of all, my wife had given up. She told me that she had prayed and told God that it was up to him now. She said that she had, had enough. On the morning of December 8, 1995 God had, had enough too. He let the pot boil over -"I Had A Stroke!"
I was in the hospital 6 days in intensive care. The doctors told me that I had just made it in time to the hospital.
A few more minutes and I would have died. God had spared me after all the pain and suffering he had endured from his child. The doctors told me I must quit drinking or die. I was only 48 years old when God gave me the first wake-up call. The first? You're saying. Yes, I plead stupidity and hard-headedness. Oh, I stopped drinking for about 6 months. Things were great. My wife and I were getting along famously and I was up and around. The partial paralysis on my left side was gone. All in all I was in good health. With a little reminder that God had left me, double vision in my left eye. Before I even say it I know you have already figured out what happened next. Yes, I started drinking again. It was as if Satan so silently whispered in my ear, "you're doing so good and surely one or two beers aren't going to hurt you. If nothing it'll prove to you that you can take it or leave it. Quit anytime you want."
I didn't take time to recall God's word - "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord." So, I was back in the hospital shortly. This time bleeding internally, regurgitating blood, defecating blood, tubes up my nose, down my throat, in both arms and why? I chose to ignore God's warning; wake-up call #2 was in full swing and this time with the threat of cirrhosis of the liver. So, you say, "Did you quit then?" I am ashamed and humiliated to say that I didn't until two, yes two more hospital stays. I think I fully understood when the doctors refused to see me again under these circumstances. God had also laid it on the line that if I wouldnt listen to him, I was heading for certain self-destruction and I was on my way straight to hell and he would have no part in it, and the next time he would let me drown in my own blood with no intervention. Praise God, he got my attention and its been well over a year now and only by his tender mercy and loving grace am I able to share this message. Glory be to God.
Now, take a moment. Only through Jesus Christ interceding to the father on my behalf, did he reach down and pull me out of the filth and muck and mire of such an existence. And that's what I was doing, just existing. Now, I'm living because Jesus is alive in me. He can do the same for you if you'll only ask him to come into your life, and be your savior. My prayer for anyone who reads or hears this testimony is that you not grieve the Lord as I did. He said, "My spirit shall not always strive with man."
Jesus died for your sins on the cross and was resurrected from death and the grave and now sits at the right hand of the father interceding for you. I say this from the very depths of my heart, whatever you do, "Don't leave God on the back burner. He will turn up the heat. Amen."
The above is the testimony of my older brother Terry Smith, who passed away at 52 years of age. Terry was a christian
when he passed away so I know I will see him again on the other side. I personally witnessed a great change in my brother Terry over the last four years of his life. He had truly accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Terry's death is a great loss to his immediate family, but he will be sorely missed by all that knew him. Terry was studying to be a minister at the time of his death with Rhema Bible College, sponsored by Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin and he was getting straight A's for his grades in his studies.
Terry's death was due to another episode of internal bleeding caused by cirrhosis of the liver caused by his alcoholism during a thirty-year period of his lifetime. As far as Terrys family knows, the last two years of Terrys life were "alcohol free." Terrys final words to his family on November 19, 1999 before returning for what would be his third surgery in a period of one week's time were, "If I don't survive this operation, I'll see you all in glory!" Terry passed away the next day at MCO hospital on November 20, 1999 at 1:50 pm with his mother, brother, sister and an aunt at his bedside.
Terry's guestbook has been deleted due to Guestworld Guestbooks doing away with html Guestbooks. If you have any comments about this website send an email to Larry Smith via The Mods website.
Terry's remaining family members encourage anyone that knew Terry and didn't get to say their final farewell to him to leave a message here in this guestbook. Your words may bring comfort to Terry's family. For those that did not know Terry at all, please read his testimony. Terry wanted to share his testimony with the world and this is his family's way of giving Terry his wish.
For anyone visiting this website and has been personally touched or affected by Terry's testimony, we also encourage you to leave a message for others to read in Terry's guestbook. Alcoholism is a terrible blight on the world. Even though Terry had turned his life around and had commited his life to following Jesus Christ, he still paid for the past abuse he that he had put his body through with his many years of alcoholism. Terry's family hopes that through their posting of Terry's testimony on the internet, it might possibly lead someone else to seek help early for their addiction. If you are in the same situation that Terry was in, please consider turning your life over to Jesus Christ and live for him. He can free you from alcoholism and he can prevent you from going through the terrible suffering that Terry went through in his final week here on this earth.
The Smith Family
A Brother's Memory, By Larry Smith
My older brother Terry R. Smith recently passed away at 52 years of age. His death was sudden, the result of a brief unforeseen illness while in the hospital following an operation. This last week has been one of the most grief-stricken times of my life, all due to the loss of a brother that I loved so very much. I will greatly miss my brother Terry. Sometimes we just to often take life for granted and we don't make enough time for those people in our lives that really matter to us, and then they are gone. Please take the time today or this week to tell everyone in your family just how much you care for them.
I am so thankful to God that he allowed me the opportunity to share special time with my brother during the final week of his life. I am filled with sadness, but this is also a joyous occasion for me, "because I know, that I know," that this day my brother Terry is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ even as I write these words. I am so very thankful that four short years ago, Terry turned his life over to Jesus Christ and accepted him as his personal savior. God saved him even though Terry was not perfect. He was working on Terry everyday striving for the perfection he wants in all of us. I can now say this about my brother, "He died, but he didn't." I will one day see him on the other side in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My brother Terry was two years and two months older than myself and I always looked up to him while growing up. I truly loved my brother all of my life. Even as we grew older and we had our differences and disagreements, but I still loved him as only a brother can. In the last 30 years we had not been as close as we once were as children. But, in the last short four years, we were starting to recapture that closeness once again. To me, he will always be my big brother.
Terry and I were both born in the beautiful blue green mountains of Harlan county Kentucky, located in the extreme southeastern corner of the state. I have very fond memories of my early childhood with my brother Terry. Our parents were poor but as children, we didn't know what poor was. We were rich beyond measure because we had the love of our parents and each other. As far as we knew, everyone lived as our family did. We had no idea what the world was really like way back then, we just took each day as it came and enjoyed our camaraderie together.
Together as children, my brother and I slept together until we were about nine or ten years old and we always shared everything together. We were as close as anyone could be. We both roamed and played in the low mountainside areas and the valley where we lived. We reveled in the naïveté of our youth. Way back then in Kentucky, I was only 4 or 5 years old, but I can still remember the great times we shared together, as only brothers can.
I can remember those days years ago as if they were today. We always called each other bubby (short for brother, I suppose) and we both loved each other so. I don't think anyone but another brother can understand the closeness that brothers share. Maybe it is not like that with all brothers, but that is how I remember it with my brother, a special closeness.
I remember crying for my brother when he was 6 years old and was leaving me behind so he could attend first grade at school. I remember my mother, talking to the teacher at the school. My mother told the teacher how much I missed my big brother while he was at school. This teacher had a very kind heart. She allowed me to sit in the doorway of my "big brother's" classroom and watch him at school for a few days, until I knew he was not leaving me for good. I remember that making me very happy.
I remember my big brother always looking out for me. I remember him watching out for me and protecting me from neighborhood bullies and he was always trying to keep me out of trouble. One day while we were out playing and I was still probably around four or five years of age, I fell into a creek and got my clothes soaking wet. We were not supposed to be down by the creek playing and we both knew it! I remember crying because I knew that I would get a spanking for playing down by the creek and for my clothes soaked with water. My "big brother" saved the day for me by sneaking into the house, getting me some dry clothes to wear. He then sneaked my wet clothes into the house and into the laundry bin, saving me from a spanking. "My hero!"
I remember roaming and playing in the foothills of the mountains of southeastern Kentucky with my big brother on warm
summer days. Those days seem so long ago, but they come flooding back to me now as if they just happened yesterday.
Back then we were inseparable we were a team and where one went so did the other. We were so involved in the joys of
childhood together. My brother showed me how to do many things, some good, and some not so good. I will always have
warm memories of the times we shared and I still get a chuckle out of the many mischevious things that boys can get into. I will always cherish our many private times together.
During the last four years, my brother and I were growing close again. Although we attended different churches in our city, we still went to church with each other occasionally. We were talking on the phone more often. We had been talking about going out together to hold revivals as soon as he received his license to minister. He would do the preaching and I would do the singing. In the past year, my brother traveled with me several times to hear me sing at other churches and events with my Southern Gospel Music ministry. He helped me load and unload sound equipment and then he helped me set the equipment up. He was a cheerleader for my music ministry. Terry told me how proud he was to have me as his brother and how he really liked what I was doing for the Lord with my singing ministry. I will miss spending time with my brother but I will always remember the good times we had together. But this I do know, we will see each other again. "Save me a place in heaven Terry."
Love your brother, Larry
The Hardest Thing I Have Ever Written
by Terry Smith
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