Liberty – I’m writing my obituary in advance so my family will not have to do it upon my death. Also, I wanted my obituary to be a little different than the norm.
Most likely I have passed away due to some complication of ALS (commonly referred to as Lou Gerhig’s Disease). I was diagnosed with ALS on September 23, 2011 at the age of 38. Let me just say… ALS Sucks!
Here is a small glimpse of my life:
I’m Jami Smith. I’m also known as Jami Soper or Jami McCashland. I was born on July 24, 1973 to Jim Soper and Betty Handley Soper (deceased), I’m sure I was joyfully welcomed home by my sister Nikki Liming (Jeff) and brother Steven (Rhonda) Soper. Some people are going to be ticked off for mentioning the following. I had three step siblings: Michelle Rump (Handley), James Pike (deceased), and Megan Soper (deceased). I didn’t know them that well.
I attended Eaton High School for three year before graduating from Union County High School in 1991. After high school, I attended Ball State University. I graduated from Ball State in 1995 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a kindergarten endorsement. To keep my teaching license current, I took various courses from various colleges. I also attended many conferences to stay current with the ever changing education system. My favorite conferences were the National I teach K (kindergarten) Conferences held in Nashville, Tennessee and Las Vegas, Nevada. I loved learning new things and implementing them into my classroom. Teaching was joy in my life!
In December of 1995, I was married to Gary McCashland. Gary is known as the Rodefelds or Napa guy, Ford or Mustang man or the mail carrier. He was also known as my classroom helper when I taught in Liberty. We were married for thirteen years.
I believe that God gives everyone a talent, it is left up to individuals to develop that talent. While being married to Gary, I worked at Liberty Elementary as a paraprofessional for one year and as a kindergarten teacher for thirteen years. I was always developing my talent as a teacher.
After Gary and I divorced, I met my current husband, Phil Smith, of Montery, Kentucky on E-Harmony. Yes, E-Harmony! He lives in Walton, Kentucky and I eventually resided there as well. Phil actually proposed to me twice. The first proposal was before we knew I had ALS and the second time was after we were told of my diagnosis. What a lucky gal I was when we were matched! I think most men would have ran after hearing that diagnosis. We were married in June in 2012. I became a stepmom to Courtney (C.J.) upon our marriage. We have three dogs named Pretzel, Elvis, and Henry. I can’t tell you how much Phil and C.J. did for me during my battle with ALS. I love you both!
While living in Walton, Kentucky, I taught for two years at Reiley Elementary. Reiley is located in Alexandria, Kentucky. I had to resign due to ALS. It was a little hard to teach phonics when my speech was deteriorating and I was worn out by the middle of the day.
During my Celebration of Life, I might be sporting some Cincinnati Bengals’ attire, Phil and I loved going to the Bengals’ games. After Phil took me to my first game, I was hooked on watching NFL. Phil became a season ticket holder in 2012. If Cincinnati wasn’t playing at Paul Brown, we would be cheering them on at home. Phil and I loved singing the Bengals’ fight song after they scored a touchdown.
I want to say thank you to our families and friends that support us during the Walk(s) to Defeat ALS and those that did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and /or donated in my honor. The love we felt was tremendous! Our hope is that one day there will be a cure for ALS. A special thank you goes to God, my husband, and my dad. Thanks for being my rocks! A special thank you Jayna Soper (stepmom) for always being my sounding board while traveling through ALS hell. Thank you so much to Phil’s family for always supporting us.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial contribution to: The Gleason Initiative Foundation PO Box 24493 New Orleans, LA, 70184.
I don’t want Phil to be burdened taking care of plants. We are not green thumbs!
If you think of me and would like to do something in my honor of my memory here are some ideas:
•If you have a place to plant some flowers, plant some sunflowers. They are the ALS flower in the U.S.
•Volunteer at a school, church or library.
•Write a letter to someone and tell them how they have had a positive effect on your life.
•If you smoke- quit.
•If you drink and drive or text and drive- stop!
•Turn off the electronics and take a kid out for ice cream and talk to them about their hopes and dreams.
•Stop at lemonade stands run by kids and brag about their product.
•Make someone smile today if it is in your power to do.
One last thing, I love you, Phil Smith!
A funeral service will be conducted at 7:00 p.m., Monday, May 10, 2021 at Showalter Blackwell Long Funeral Home, Fosdick Chapel, Liberty, with Reverend David Soper officiating. Friends may visit the funeral home from 5:00p.m. until the time of service. For additional information and to send condolences or memories, please visit www.ShowalterBlackwellLong.com