When my sister married her husband, he became so much more than a brother-in-law to me, my other siblings, and the rest of our family. Carl became an uncle to our children, a friend to me, and eventually a super dad to his daughter Avery.
Several years ago Carl started a Valentine’s tradition for me, my youngest sister and daughter where he would invite us over, present us with chocolates (hand-selected from a local chocolatier), flowers, and little gifts. He even bought a chocolate fountain for our Valentine’s soiree. Of course his wife got the biggest box of chocolates and largest bouquet of flowers, but Carl always made sure that he didn’t forget about his sisters-in-law and niece. I once joked that Carl showered us with better gifts than any of our boyfriends or husbands ever had.
On September 30, 2020 Carl and my sister, Jevelyn, celebrated twenty-five years of marriage. They’ll be the first tell you that the road to twenty-five was punctuated with a lot of good times, many bad times, and everything in between. Over the past several years Carl’s health declined significantly. From diabetes to colon cancer to having several toes amputated to dialysis, the bonds of their vows have been tested. But Jevelyn and Carl stayed strong, prayerful, and together.
Jevelyn learned how to perform dialysis at home so Carl wouldn’t have to sit at the dialysis center for hours on end. She spent hours researching recipes and learned to cook kidney friendly and heart healthy meals. When he was first diagnosed with diabetes she told him, “We’re in this together. We’ll make it through this.”
Carl never wanted Jevelyn to miss out on special anniversary or birthday presents because he wasn’t as mobile as he’d liked to be. So he sent me, with very specific instructions. But I was happy to do it because you just wanted to do things for Carl.
Jevelyn and Carl aren’t the kind of couple who receive accolades or fanfare. They aren’t flashy or boastful. What they are is the true embodiment of these vows - for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
And Carl did all of that right until the very end. He fought a good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith. And he loved Jevelyn until there were no more days left for him to do so. Rest now, Carl, you deserve it.
Carl Napoleon Smith June 22, 1966 – February 9, 2021.