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Limitless: My Dear Friend Katie




Today, it is with a heavy heart that I share with you a great loss to our market and soap family. Yesterday, we received word that our dear friend, Katie Smith, passed away on Monday night. Katie was one of the coolest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Her positivity, tenacity, strength, and wry sense of humor made her an unforgettable character. Our hearts are broken at the loss of this beautiful person.


We met Katie in 2017. Katie was a regular at the Ligonier Market. Like many of you, Katie was drawn to our tent because of The Bean. Jordan and Katie developed a bond very quickly. They would discuss school, friends, soap, goats, moms, and everything in between. What impressed Jordan the most was Katie’s positive outlook on life. She emphasized that a person is only limited by their mindset. She believed there was no such thing as failure; each failed attempt was a lesson, not a setback.


You see, Katie was in a wheelchair. She suffered a horrible car accident, and it left her without the use of her legs. Of all the stories in the world, Katie’s could have been one of the saddest. Except, once you met Katie and talked to her, there was no room for sadness or self-pity. Katie was fearless. She was a force of nature and a steely advocate for disabled youth. Katie was intelligent, funny, quick-witted, creative, kind, empathetic, fierce, and strong. No, there just isn’t room in Katie’s Katie-ness for pity or sadness.


Katie was a worthy opponent to The Bibbed Wonder’s wit. They exchanged verbal barbs and respected each other for the witty comeback battles. Katie had a way of busting on you that should have been insulting, but her impeccable delivery was just hilarious. She would often compliment me for my soap, creativity, or parenting skills only to follow up with, “Now, don’t go getting a big head. You still wear mom jeans!” Katie was one of a kind.


Katie and The Bean had all kinds of plans. They were going to write a book, paint rocks, plant a garden, tour the farm. We won’t have the opportunity to do any of our plans now, which breaks both my and Jordan’s hearts. Katie was a constant at the market. My tent was often her home base. She would have other vendors deliver her purchases to our tent to keep an eye on them. Often, she would take The Bean with her, and they would talk and laugh. The Bean, The Bibbed Wonder, and I never “helped” Katie. I learned early on that Katie didn’t need help and found it insulting that people assumed she did. She impressed me to absolutely no end. As our friendship grew, she would permit us to help her to her car. We would carry anything she couldn’t maneuver easily with her chair. She would tell us where to put her purchases, and she would dismantle her chair, store it in her front seat, seat herself in the driver’s seat, and away she would go. I always teased her that her car looked like she or perhaps a hobo lived in it. Her retort was always a snide “whatever!” I am going to miss all that.


If it were too hot at the market, Katie would hang out in our tent, and she would engage anyone and everyone in conversation. She especially loved children, but she could strike up a meaningful conversation with anyone. She used to tease me and tell me she was going to talk to her union rep for a cut of my profits because she sold more soap in half an hour than I did in a day. She was not wrong. I, of course, responded that people only bought soap from her because she bullied them into it. I would tell her she missed her calling and should have been a carnival heckler. She always had a snarky comeback. I’m going to miss all that too.


Cari, the director of the Ligonier Market, has an amazing idea to honor Katie. It is an idea Katie would have loved and supported. If I had to describe Katie in one word, it would be limitless. She knew no boundaries, had no limitations. I never thought of Katie as handicapped or impaired. I think of her as an athlete, an artist, an advocate, a comedian, a teacher, a nurturer, a groundbreaker, a gardener, an optimist, an author, and most of all, a friend. Katie was indeed my family. When we hugged goodbye at the end of every market, she always told me she loved me. It wasn’t one of those “I say it to everyone because I gush kind of I love yous.” It was a genuine, heartfelt expression of how we felt about our friendship. I am going to miss my friend. I’m sad, and my heart is broken. The only thing that gives me comfort is that I know Katie’s pain is over, and she is free of the burdens of this world. I know beyond a doubt my dear friend Katie is indeed limitless.


As always, dear reader, stay safe, be smart, be limitless, and keep washing your hands.

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