Ann Smith of Bent County, was born in Ohio, then migrated with her family when she was six to Kansas; lived in a dugout and made it through the dust bowl, and graduated from Coolidge High School.
She started writing to a soldier during World War II as recommended by one of her teachers, who was married to this solder’s brother; and then fell in love with her cowboy, Mahlon D. Smith, of Hasty, and married him. She arrived in Bent County in 1946 and they raised 16 children.
She was always the pillar of strength for her family and their Catholic faith was unwavering. After a very fulfilling life of raising her children, she then worked at the VA Hospital Fort Lyon for eight years as a transcriptionist and enjoyed it immensely – giving her confidence in making her own way and moving to Las Animas from the ranch.
Ann always loved to sew and was very energetic, making lots of clothes for her children, herself, her husband’s shirts and eventually wedding dresses for several daughters. A person of very frugal means, she then took those scraps and started making quilts. She was still making quilts until shortly before her death.
She always volunteered for her church and community and was active with the Bent County Historical Society and the VFW Auxiliary. Ann loved flying with her sons in airplanes, and drove pretty fast, because she was always in a hurry. She was still driving in her 90s and got to drive out on the ranch one more time about two months before she died. Much to the surprise of the two daughters who let her drive, she still drove very fast and terrified them.
Ann was also a music-lover, and the family sang together on many of life’s occasions.
As Ann’s health declined, especially after a stroke last summer, she got lots of help from her many children, (three daughters are nurses – Barb, Nancy and Karen), with everyday living challenges. Ann was able to remain in her home until her death, thanks to the help of Hospice Services and family care.
Initially, Ann was concerned about the cost of hospice, but upon learning that Medicare covered the costs, she was very happy and relieved to receive their services.
Barb, who helped her daily, knew the track record of Arkansas Valley Hospice, and asked her mom to consider it. Ann asked what Kathleen thought, who knew that her mother-in-law was on hospice, and she told her how happy her mother-in-law was with their services and encouraged her Mom to go that route, and she did shortly after that.
All it took was one short phone call, and the program began.
Ann made friends fast with all those caregivers of hospice, and she loved them all. Chaplain Steve Hicks, a Baptist, told her they would get along just fine, even though Ann was a Catholic, and they did. On one occasion, Steve brought his guitar and performed a regular “concert” for Ann and her family that was present.
During the two months of concentrated hospice care, Ann enjoyed the hospice caregiver’s visits, as well as those of her family that surrounded her. The family took the responsibility of daily care, with regular visits from hospice.
“Because we were nurses, the hospice nurse just gave them instructions in the nursing routine, and anticipated our needs. They brought in a wheelchair to us right before we actually needed it, complete with a padded seat to eliminate the possibility of bedsores.
"They anticipated the needs for all her medication and oxygen use, keeping close tabs on the supply and never letting it run out. When Ann needed a hospital bed, toward the end of her life, it was delivered and set up quickly, and the transition was very smooth.”
Barb expressed deep appreciation for the 24 hour/7 day a week efficiency of Arkansas Valley Hospice. All of the caregivers were not only very professional, but also very caring and compassionate. They worked with the entire family as needs arose.
Ann was alert and oriented up until shortly before she passed. The hospice caregivers had become her dear friends, singing, praying and conversing with her along with family.
RECOMMENDATION FOR HOSPICE
The Ann Smith family would highly recommend Arkansas Valley Hospice to anyone needing those services.
Barb said, “The many caregivers who work for hospice not only provide the day-to-day care, but they can teach family members how to provide care as well, giving instruction in anything that needs to be done, such as bathing the patient, nutritional needs, etc.”
Ann left quite a legacy – 16 children and 110 grandchildren at the time of her death.
Ann was not afraid of dying - she made peace with her savior and faced death head-on, like she had done with every challenge in her life.