Whenever our loved ones and friends transition from this life into their heavenly reward, those left behind are left trying to describe the life and legacy of the dearly departed. Meticulously choosing words and phrases that articulate the spirit and provide a brief snapshot of the life that person lived on this earth is not an easy task. Well my summary of this great man is one word: smile. Rev Willie Brooks was a man of faith and one who loved God and everybody. He had a smile that could erase any doubt, fear or frustration that you could ever yield. I can never recall seeing Mr. Brooks in a bad mood or without that trademark smile. Even through difficult moments in life he held fast to his faith and knew with unfailing confidence that God was with him each and every step of the way. How did one know this? That smile. A smile that let everyone know that love still exists in this world. A smile that immediately said that yes you are my friend. A smile that said God is love. My family and I have been blessed to know the entire Brooks family for a very long time. We have broken bread together, as well as mourned with one another. And through it all, that smile was quite evident. I can fondly recall Mr. Brooks jokingly telling me stories about growing up in Birmingham and how as a young bachelor a bag of rib tips was more than enough to sustain one's stomach. Speaking of food. Rev Brooks was a very good cook and was known for sharing with friends as well as the Gayfer's/Dillard's "extended family" through his wife Mrs. Beverly. I learned from this man that life is not meant to be lived through the agony of pain but the acknowledgement of one's blessings. You could not help but to smile when he greeted you and especially when those big hands grasped yours in a firm handshake. The last time I saw Rev. Brooks was in April of 2013. As he lay in Sacred Heart Hospital the first thing I looked for was that smile. Although he was in a great deal of pain, it pained me not to see that smile. But I am sure that on the inside he was still smiling. Well my good buddy your work on earth is done. Whenever I get upset or my heart starts to fill with doubt I will remember that smile. They say that the highest form of flattery is imitation. We all need to take a page out of your book and learn to love and smile more. So from now on when I see a beautiful sunrise, I will know it is you smiling down on us. Rest in peace my friend.