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Mildred's Story

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Mildred (Millie) Ann Smiley, age 76, passed away on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 after spending a beautiful evening with her granddaughter, Breigha Kotulski.
Millie was born on June 2, 1941 in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the height of WWII. Having been a young child, losing both her birth father during WWII and her stepfather, whom she affectionately referred to as, "daddy" when she was 14 years old, she was left to grieve with little or no support from her family.
The grief and lack of nurturing during such a delicate time in her life caused great sadness and loneliness. Sent to boarding school to be educated and taken care of when those closest to her were unable to provide the support she needed, she developed depression.
In college she met a good looking and charming man that helped to bless her with two beautiful girls, Susan and Christine (Tina). Charm and good looks were never able to provide her with understanding and compassion and soon left her in Hinsdale, IL to raise two young daughters who she tried with all her strength to raise as best she could.
In the early 1960's, Millie turned to the medical field hoping to find the help she needed to fill the void that had been left from loss.
Given medications to help with weight loss, depression and loneliness while raising her two young daughters, she developed psychosis. For decades following, having lost her home, all of her possessions and family heirlooms, her daughters and dignity, being shuffled around from physician to physician to group homes, half-way homes, institutions, apartments and motels, she somehow managed through all the insanity to always remember her grandchildren and special great nephew. Whether it was blank card with just her signature or a handwritten note with a dollar enclosed, her grandchildren always knew she had not forgotten them. After having almost lost her life so many times at the hands those who thought they knew what was best for her, her daughter Tina saved her life and brought her home to Minnesota.
For the next 15 years, scarred and battered from a hard life thrown at her by her own gift of making trouble for herself and a mental health system that added more trouble for her than she had for herself, she somehow managed, with the help of her daughter, to be a Grandmother the way she had never been able to be a mother for her two daughters.
Her joys came from every moment she had with her grandchildren, even when she was not there herself. She loved watching her oldest grandson, Charles Kotulski dance in the Mankato Ballet as the Nutcracker. She loved the times she spent shopping with her grandson, Eddie Kotulski and the egg drop soup he had bought for her at the mall. She loved the church lessons her granddaughter, Breigha Kotulski recited to her from the church worship service bulletin. She loved the talks she had with her granddaughter, Marzhan Smiley, so very proud of her singing abilities and how well she was growing into such a beautiful young lady. She loved the times she spent with her youngest grandson, Samuel Kotulski, playing Go Fish, watching Pit Bulls and Parolees and talking about life and people. She loved talking to her goddaughter Kristen Hall and loved deeply her great nephew Alec Hall.
In the last three years of her life, the Good Lord found the hole that had been made in her heart by the circumstances life had thrown her. Slowly, but faithfully He healed her heart and made it whole. The last night she lived she spent the evening with her granddaughter. There she confessed that she knew Jesus Christ was her savior and that He was always there for her. She had found peace with her life and loved her two daughters, but especially her grandchildren. They had given her the chance to be the mother she had always hoped to be for her own children.
Through her life she taught us that as long as there's life, there is hope. Where there is hope, there will always be love. Where there is love, there will always be Millie. As her grandson Eddie said so well, "she couldn't clean, she couldn't cook, but she could love."
Millie is survived by her two daughters, Susan Smiley (Los Angeles, CA), Tina Kotulski, (Madelia, MN), her five grandchildren, Charles, Eddie, Breigha and Samuel Kotulski (Madelia, MN), Marzhan Smiley (Los Angeles, CA), her goddaughter, Kristen Hall (Florida), a special grand-nephew, Alec Hall (Florida) and a special son-in-law, Dr. Jeff Kotulski (Madelia, MN).
She is predeceased by her mother, Kathryn Louise Hall(Froscher), birthfather, Charles Author Stafford, stepfather, John W. Hall, a brother, John Hall and two special animal friends, Winston and Q-ball.
Millie's family gratefully acknowledges the staff at Autumn Grace, Mankato for showing Millie the kindness and respect she deserved.
Millie's family also would like to acknowledge the staff at Between the Bridges Healing Center, (45 Teton Lane, Mankato, MN) who always treated Millie with love, kindness, compassion and consideration and helped her to feel better when she felt so bad.
A Celebration of Millie's life will take place in the Spring, her favorite season, at Between the Bridges Healing Center. Funeral Services will be private at the convenience of her family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her honor to the ASCPA https://secure.aspca.org/donate/memorial or to the Millie Smiley Memorial Fund established to make donations for others who can't otherwise afford excellent healthcare at Between the Bridges Healing Center 45 Teton Lane, Mankato, MN 56001
Published on December 10, 2017
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