Paul Smith, 1936 - 2007


This web page is dedicated to the memory of Paul Smith, born in Canada. His sister Gladys tells about his time in Canada in her obituary. The last 9 years of his life he spent in Austria, where he had found me, Heidrun Beer, his first and only wife at the age of 62.

Paul was not only a husband with many practical skills and a gifted entertainer, he also had a deep spiritual understanding and was an anchor for everybody in the family. Even visitors felt his special qualities. The average time to love Paul, for a newcomer, was around 10 seconds...

Paul's death in his 71st year was painful and a tragedy. If you want to know what happened, read it here: Paul Smith Dead At 70 - An Angel Killed by Tobacco! It is the text announcing his death that was sent to the newsgroups in which he participated.

At a point where he was already in daily pain, we discussed the various medical procedures I was planning. He wasn't sure whether he wanted that and, talking to a nurse, half-jokingly cited his deceased sister: "Like Nina, who said that she had a fulfilled life - I would be ready to go but my wife won't let me."

Finally he decided to let the doctors work, because he wanted to stay with me. I didn't want him to go. Even in a wheelchair, even on a stretcher, I would have carried him with me for the rest of my life, just for his dear and loving presence. On his very last day, he still tried to stay awake so he could keep the body going. But the damage was too big.

Paul and I were deeply in love, I miss him immensely.

The following photos want to remind you of his better days. It will not be possible to tell all the details of 9 rich and joyful years, but for everybody who knew him here are a few impressions from his years in Austria.


Our life together started in this house in Klamm, near Semmering in Lower Austria. After our first 10 day long meeting in Texas, Paul visited me here for a month. When the time came to board the plane back, we simply couldn't separate anymore. He threw the ticket away and we got married on the 11th of September, 1998. Three years later, this date would become one of the most terrible in history. I will never forget watching the fall of the twin towers on our 3rd wedding anniversary.

We lived at an elevation of 900 meters above sea level. Paul knew already about his lung emphysema, but at this time it was not really a problem and we even went higher up, like our mountain trip on Rax which is around 2000 meters above sea level. He had promised to stop smoking, but it took him 3 more years to get rid of the addiction. The last push to give it up was that he lost his voice at Christmas 2000 - then he quit cold turkey. But the voice never came back, he could only whisper for the rest of his life.

There was no thinking of Paul without a cat. His mental picture of life always had a cat on his lap, in the bed, or following him like a doggie when he went out to do his daily chores. Somehow, the cats knew it and always slipped into their role exactly the way he liked it. I would have preferred working cats who take care of the mice in the house, but feeding the cat was so essential for Paul that we always had only "Whis-Cats" (cats who eat Whiskas cat food instead of rodents).

I always was a cat person too, but my preferred pets became the bees. They just tolerated Paul... well not always. Here he is grinning all over his face about a fat bee sting under his right eye. That I got my bee hives - for many years a dream that seemed too far-fetched to become real - was only Paul's doing. He kept encouraging me until I found some hives, bought the equipment and the books. This pattern kept happening again and again. Whether it was writing a novel, studying medicine or becoming a farmer, Paul would not allow me to live with a dream that remained a closed flower bud. He wanted them all to unfold, and he didn't care how much time it cost him to do the carpenter work for it.

As I had to provide most of the income, much of our social life happened in my office. He would bring two bowls of food and I would have my feet in his lap and we would talk. That the cat sat down on my legs did not happen very often. Most times the cats ignored me and just followed Paul.

It took years before we had a dining table. We put all our efforts into establishing the "Spiritual Research Workgroup". Only when its rooms were ready, we expanded into the private realm and furnished rooms like this one (it became much nicer in a later stage). Paul was not physically related to my boys (the older girls already lived on their own), but he played the role of their father in an incredibly caring and very creative way. He was not only their chauffeur and short order cook, he also taught them the naughty english words that the dictionaries don't contain, he even showed Patrick how to jump into a puddle! I had successfully avoided letting the boy learn that, but with Paul around there was no more chance.

One of the rare photos where I am not holding the camera. Social life in the office again, with my older son Rüdiger behind the camera.

Once we took in two guest cats. One of them must have been sick, because she died a few months later and Paul's companion cat Hunter soon afterwards. After that tragedy, we always had our cats vaccinated. We called them our "gold plated cats"... guess why! Here Paul gets the new kitten "Spooky" for birthday.

Paul on our mountain meadow. We didn't really have garden furniture. When Paul wanted to rest while he was mowing the grass or doing some other chore, he simply spread out a pullower or jacket and sat down on it. In the first years, still with a cigarette. I often watched it quietly from the balcony and felt the pain of my current loss many years in advance. I sometimes asked myself whether I really should have married a man who was not only 19 years older than me, but also a smoker. There were several other areas where we were not really a match - mainly computers and organization -, but his instant understanding of my ideas, his never tiring support of my dreams and his dear love always weighed so much more on the scale.

Talking to the new kitten Spooky (not in the picture). I always found Paul's face incredibly beautiful. Not in the way that a dressman is beautiful, but his smile and laughing wrinkles were always radiating more than the physical, more than words can possibly describe. Our life was a bit chaotic in some ways because he was really relaxed in things that would require strict management. The date order in our fridges and deep freezers kept getting confused. We threw away food because it had become too old. I could never find anything in our workshop and finally had to buy some tools a second or third time. Frustration could come up, but I would not let it take over. I looked at my lover's face again with all my senses wide open, and it was not only beautiful, it also projected something from beyond, an at-home-ness, a certainty of being connected to a higher plane. Some would call it "spiritual awareness", but that term is too technical to really describe what came across to me. I called it the "bliss of heaven". No silly earthly matter would have been worth losing that from my life. I accepted that in some ways I had to manage an additional child, and simply delegated the things that I felt Paul didn't handle well to other people (there was always a cleaning lady in the house), or did them myself.

Paul was incredibly sexy, but at the same time so full of clownery that he would never have made it to a real macho. He told me about a girl who went only to bed with him in order to hear his one-liners after their climax. He had lots and lots and lots of such precious stories - at first sight one could have thought that he used to be a womanizer, but not so. There was always care for the girl in him, he loved them all, even for only one night. - Our love life was rich and beautiful, even if we had a second bedroom to which he escaped when he woke up at night with one of his coughing attacks. We both knew that I needed my sleep in order to function as a breadwinner. We were active lovers until 4 months after his 70th birthday, not only he became sick but also for me the dramatic time of climacterium began. I was suffering from a serious 6-week long bleeding and finally needed an operation. Our last new bed we could test only once. But the love remained even into his coma. In Paul's last night, when his liver and kidneys had already failed, his dear heart kept beating for me many more hours. Most of the time I was holding his hand, but for half an hour or so, I put my head on his blanket and his hand on my head. There was his warmth and his gentle pulse like so many nights before, saying "I love you, I love you, I love you" - the same words he always used. His hand reacted to mine just like it reacted in many nights when we were holding hands in our sleep and they talked to each other while we were dreaming. There was the blissful feeling again, the feeling of touching God through my lover. This night, with him totally passed out, we made love for the last time. I will never forget it. 

Paul the family clown. Only Scientology insiders will realize that in this photo, he is caricaturing a famous photo of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Scientology religion. When I saw him in the pose, I broke out in laughter and ran for the camera. Too bad that he was no salesman at all. On stage he could have made millions with his comic talent. Or he could have become a famous bicycle designer. He had been some kind of VIP in the bicycle scene in Canada, people knew him, his face was seen on TV. He had built record setting and award winning recumbant bikes and had the whole technology for it in his head, so it was a logical idea for me to ask him whether he would like me to make some connections with the industry for him when he moved to Austria. But he declined, saying that he didn't have any ambitions in this direction, and preferred to enjoy life with me, the family and his many newsgroups.

Browsing the internet. Had Paul not been an eager participant in many newsgroups and mailing lists, we would have never met. I had just left the Church of Scientology at that time and was trying to find a new spiritual home. I ended up on the Knowledigsm homepage and their mailing list, and there he contacted me for the first time. But he had been aware of me before - he told me that he had followed my hundreds of posts as "Clear Baby" on the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology "with a hard-on" - just one example of his self irony. This was not the only amazing thing. I could feel an attention "out there", a connection with me, many months before I first saw the name Paul Smith in my mailbox. It was the same caring that I later experienced from him in person. I was looking for a new partner at the time and kept coming back to that caring wavelength that I could perceive in the spiritual universe. I had no idea how to connect it to a human being or at least a name... and then there was one more thing. I kept seeing the face of a man hovering in the air when I went through my empty house, spiritually calling for a partner. It had no similarity with anybody that I knew. I could not distinguish its physical features, only its wave pattern fingerprint. It had a sunny smile and radiated brilliant humor and a relaxed confidence. Only when we already lived together in Klamm, I could connect these early perceptions with the man with whom I had fallen in love, and realized that I had seen some glimpses of my own future. 

Although Paul had first priority for me spiritually, in our physical reality most of my time went into business work and activities for the "Spiritual Research Workgroup". Paul was happy with that. When he wanted to talk, he would come to my office, sit down behind my chair and wait patiently until I had my attention free for him. The cat always joined him. Sometimes we ran away to the bedroom in the middle of the day - he knew how to kiss me to make this happen. But he never did it just because he felt horny. He sensed my needs and invited them to be expressed, even when I tried to suppress them because of my office discipline. Most of the time he respected this discipline, but before I became a total slave worker, he always got me to break the routine.

At the "Airpower" flight show in Zeltweg. We did not make very many trips in our free time as we didn't really have any free time, but this one just had to be done. It was an incredibly hot day and we came home exhausted, but it was still worth the time. After some years, I felt more and more guilty that I didn't show Paul more of Austria. Then when we started to look for a farm, he saw lots of it. We never made it to the Vienna State Opera (I still had that on my to-do-list), but we went up the Rax and hiked with my father and many relatives through the famous "Wienerwald", the forest around Vienna. Finally in 2003, we got equipped with mountain bikes, and for a whole season, we made bike tours through Lower Austria, sometimes with, most times without the kids. I admired Paul's fitness - I was an office cripple, he a former marathone runner and bicycle racer, far stronger than I. Nobody would have believed that less than four years later, he would be gone due to his lung condition.

Still in Klamm, wearing the fox hat that I gave him for Christmas, getting awfully skinny. But a year or two later in Pernzell he was up to a full 67 Kilo (147 pounds), the highest weight he ever had while we were together. Beside his lung emphysema, Paul also had celiac disease, a genetic condition. It requires a life-long gluten free diet, that means: no wheat, rye, oats or barley. In other words, all the bread and noodles and cookies from the supermarket are forbidden. I therefore had my kitchen equipped with all kinds of bakery forms, noodle and sausage makers etc. Paul did the daily cooking for the family - simple food, nothing complicated - I preferred it to all sophisticated recipes because, as he used to say, "the love is stirred in at the bottom" - it didn't feed only the body, it was food for the soul, the food of love that kept me going. I on the other hand had my own kitchen where I produced big stacks of gluten free pizza, lasagne, noodles, sausage, pancakes, bread and various cakes for the deep freezer. Paul had his own gluten-free deep freezer and I kept it filled with all the food that he wanted. Baking without wheat is a difficult activity, but I had worked out my own flour mix and I could use it in nearly all recipes to replace the wheat flour.

Our first and only apricot crop! In the fall of 1998, the year of his arrival, Paul tested positive for lung cancer in a naturopath's bioresonance test. He went through an alternative treatment and later school medicine found him tumor free. In the same fall, he planted some 18 fruit trees (8 I had planted before he came to Austria). Most trees did fine, but the apricots always lost their young fruits in the late spring frost. Only once, we had such a long winter that they didn't blossom before it was warm enough for them to keep the little fruits. In the next year, we left Klamm. I hope the new tenants will enjoy our orchard.

Body communication! Here with Spooky, who used to follow Paul like a shadow. I sometimes thought he was married to "the cat", whoever it was, more than to me. Of course this was nonsense, or it was my own fault because I was a real workaholic. I spent so much time in my office - not only to make income, but also to handle all the administrative work for company and family, write books, web pages, articles for a small magazine. One day I got the impression that it was beginning to make me sick. There was a new headache and a strange tense feeling in my head, and a kind of panic, "it cannot go on like this". I had no idea what was wrong, until a doctor told me that I was developing high blood pressure - very untypical for me, because in my first 50 years, my blood pressure had always been too low. Around the same time, Paul began to slow down in his physical work. He observed it himself and complained several times about it. "You need a new husband!" was meant to be a joke, but neither one of us found it funny. For him, retirement was not an option. Also, the chances to live a long and good life for emphysema patients are the better, the more physical activity they can maintain. So the idea was born to find a farm where he could drive a tractor or maybe some horses instead of working the Honda motor plough, and I could find some outside chores for myself in order to create a healthier balance for my poor work horse, the body. My main client was located in Upper Austria, he kept complaining about the long distance, so our natural destination would be Upper Austria, where I had lived in my second marriage and where my two boys had been born.

We visited several farms and soon found out that we spent a whole day on the road each time we went to Upper Austria from Semmering. One of these farms had three empty holiday apartments. The owner didn't promote them anymore, as he wanted to sell the farm, and therefore was a little low in money. In May 2005, we made a rental contract that was limited only to the time until he had found a buyer. We hoped that we would have found our final farm earlier than that. Paul did the whole movement in our small truck, with only one helper who was disassembling furniture and packing boxes, while I was setting up the operation in the new place. We spent a year and a half in this farm house in Pernzell, Obergrünburg, between Kirchdorf and Steyr. Here is a web page with some more photos. I didn't have my books - they were stored in the attic -, so I spent my time doing the agricultural course that was needed for a farm. The house had a gas heating system. Paul stopped doing the firewood job that had kept him fit for seven years. I will always wonder whether that lack of training started him on the downhill course - 16 months later when we left Pernzell, he started doing firewood again, but was worn out very fast. In Pernzell, subjectively, he felt great - we had moved down from 900 to 450 meters above sea level, there was more oxygen in the air, and he had a very active time in this little valley close to the Steyr river.

This photo was made in front of a hot air balloon on which we had booked a ride on Paul's 70th birthday. I had spent a fortune and done a lot of organizational work to make that happen. To the kids I said we had to make such a big fuss because 70 is a round birthday and who knows how many more birthdays he will have? Although the knowledge about his emphysema was always gnawing in the background of my mind, there was no visible hint that it would be his last birthday. The real reason for the big fuss was that I felt I owed Paul much more attention, more gifts, more love, more of my presence. We had both become slave workers and needed more time together. We enjoyed that balloon ride immensely. Standing still for more than two hours didn't bother him in the least - while I was nearly passing out, as it was the first day of my menstruation and I never do anything important on that day because my brain is foggy and my blood pressure somewhere below zero. Here is the full report.

Of course we also had a gluten free birthday cake... that was in May 2006. At that time we already knew that the property was sold and we had to find a new home. The final farm still had not shown up. One contract, already signed, did not materialize. I became rather panicky in these days because I didn't know whether we would have to spend the next winter in a tent. A few small camping tents were part of our survival kits, but for all our furniture, books, personal stuff and farming equipment we would have needed a circus tent.

A bank manager who was involved in the failed farm deal finally told us about a house in the neighbourhood, in a village called Hackstock, that was standing empty and in urgent need of attention, as the owner was a fragile lady and couldn't handle the lawn mowing job of the big meadow and the other necessary maintenance work. The house was in our target area, but at 900 meters above sea level (again - like Semmering), so we thought about it quite thoroughly. We had many discussions about moving back up in elevation, because Paul had noticed already at 450 meters that he couldn't do the things anymore that he had done easily one or two years earlier. Finally he gave green light, with the simple argument that no matter how close to sea level we were going to move, his lungs would be a problem sooner or later and that one day they would finally kill him.

We rented the place and the nightmare began. Paul started to bump into things with the truck, he ran into things with his head and with his shinbone, he needed hours and hours of extra sleep and had zero success in relaying my strict directions to the two transportation workers we had hired. The result was utter chaos. Three months after we had started to move things from a temporary warehouse to the final place, half of them was still there. No single piece of furniture could be found with all parts complete. Paul was aware of my desparation and suffered from that on top of all his pains - that he rarely told me about. I nearly cried when he apologized for the way this project was falling apart, as I perceived his physical problems and didn't know how to help him. He lost so much weight that the doctor sent him to the hospital. Even worse, the hospital did not pay any attention to the already known emphysema, they were looking for tumors only. While I jumped into the driver's seat and drove the truck up and down the mountain every second day - one tour took five hours -, additionally to my office work and admin and house furnishing jobs, immediately after my operation and while I was training up my body by splitting wood for one hour a day, I started to work out a plan to get Paul his health back. We had to get him out of the general hospital and to a lung specialist. But it was Christmas and the specialist was away for a holiday - we lost nearly two weeks that way. The time was not wasted though - when we finally got a prescription for oxygen, it was only a tiny percent point that brought him into the necessary range of reduced oxygen saturation in the blood, and it was only seen on an additional test. The blood gases were still too good! The doctor was already sending us home when I insisted that we had to have oxygen, even if I had to pay for it myself, because Paul simply needed it. We may not have gotten it at all two weeks earlier.

This new parka, a webcam and a lot of other presents waited for Paul when he came home on the day before Christmas. He had been found tumor free, but no test had been able to establish the reason for the fever that kept flaring up (in the last night, one specialist told me that the liver itself, damaged by too little oxygen, must have been the source for the sepsis). I finally learned that Paul's dentures were hurting, I don't know for how long already, and that they were one reason that he could not eat much - another one was the gastritis that the hospital had found, but mountain climbers with air sickness ( = lack of oxygen like Paul) also lose appetite. I made an appointment with a dentist for new teeth - she too was on Christmas holidays. Meanwhile, the fever kept coming back. Paul took the medicine prescribed by the hospital against the fever, even less than prescribed, but containing Paracetamol, it must have contributed to the bad effects the lack of oxygen and the mysterious infection already had on his liver. The oxygen briefly improved the situation - the fever disappeared for a few days but then reappeared. On the 5th of February Paul still drove to the lung specialist himself. On the 6th I asked the lung specialist whether a flu shot would be OK, as we had missed it in fall where we normally get it because Paul was so sick, and there were now warnings on TV of a coming flu epidemic. We got the OK, as a flu could have been deadly and the vaccination was the lesser evil, and on the 7th the flu shot was done. On the 8th Paul was supposed to get some CT images and another oxygen prescription from the lung specialist, but couldn't do the drive anymore, so I did it. I learned that Paul had forgotten to mention the fever at all and the flu shot had been a bad idea under the circumstances!

The specialist gave me a paper for a new hospital examination, but on the very next day the new dentures would be ready and we absolutely needed the dentures as Paul could not eat with the old ones and was already a skeleton. Another two weeks in hospital with the old dentures would have starved him to death. He stayed at home, got his new teeth - which gave his face a completely new look, see the parka picture in the box above this one -, and on the same day got another prescription of antibiotics against the fever by the village doctor. This was Friday. I waited two days for the pills to work, but he still needed the old fever medicine twice a day. In the night to Monday, he couldn't make it to the toilet anymore. I had looked for him twice this night and found him asleep, but between and after that he was awake and shaking with fever. In the morning I called the emergency.


As soon as Paul was in the hospital, we lost no time to clean out all the moving boxes from his room between which he had been sleeping. I found mould on the outside wall, the boxes had been standing too close to the wall - so we washed that away and blow-dried it with a hair dryer and gave it two coats of mould protective paint. We set up Paul's shelves with his books and personal belongings that had lived in the boxes for such a long time, and gave the oxygen tank a strategic position between the bed and the internet computer where he browsed his newsgroups. The room was now friendly and bright. Paul enjoyed the printouts that I brought him and looked forward to moving back home in a few weeks (I had told him that he could die from his condition but he also knew that he had a chance and we were trying to think positively). That was about two hours before he fell into the final coma. The last thing he told me was how there were two intentions fighting in him - his body wanted to stop but he wanted it to keep going. Then the breathing trouble that had been building up over three days got worse and the nurses had to take over... the rest is here: Paul Smith Dead At 70 - An Angel Killed by Tobacco!




I hope you could get a bit of an impression of Paul's life in Austria and I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Should you be a smoker, please think twice about lighting your next cigarette. These things destroy lives with greater certainty than being run over by a truck. Paul could have had a future. We could have had a future. I never learned who first got him into smoking - I was not even born at the time -, but he or she burned more than a match, he or she burned 10, 20, maybe 30 years of a loving togetherness. Please don't allow it to happen to yourself.