Yesterday was the memorial service for my friend Debbie & to add to the mood, it was overcast & raining. The parking lot of the funeral home could not even accommodate all the cars, with many of us parking behind it in the cemetery. As I stood in the long line waiting to get inside, I realized like a big goober I’d forgotten to bring tissues. The line flowed out of the funeral home doors & snaked its way into the parking lot, so I wasn’t about to run back to the car for the stash of fast food napkins in my console.
Once inside I was lucky to have gotten a seat, which ran out 1 row behind me. There wasn’t enough room to bring in more chairs, so about 25-30 people were lined up against the walls; it was standing room only. I knew people would come out of the woodwork for this, because Debbie was 1 in a million. From where I sat, I could see Debbie’s daughter sitting with her husband’s arm around her, & it hardly seemed real that less than 3 years ago we were celebrating Jenny’s outdoor wedding…… in the rain….like today. That certainly was a day to remember, but a story for another time.
Like the minister said as he looked around the packed room, “It was a testament to a life well lived” & that Debbie was “larger than life”. He was SO right. Turns out the girl sitting beside me was another goober & during the service we both had to use our hands to wipe away tears as they streamed down our faces. Neither of us dared to bow our heads too deep in prayer, lest our noses run. Debbie definitely would’ve found that funny, so I didn’t feel guilty. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s in heaven & we will see each other again some day.
I’d known Debbie from the mid-90’s when I’d first moved here & we saw each other every 2 weeks for over 15 years. We both had grown up in the military & we bonded instantly. Debbie had moved here from Alabama & had lived less than 2 hours from where my sister lives today. I’d watched her 2 kids grow up, did many prom nails, then wedding nails, & we became more friends than client/tech. We did lunches, we did Garden Club together, & helped each other fundraise for our charities. Debbie had lost her mom to breast cancer when she was younger, so the American Cancer Society was her charity & she even sat on the board of our local chapter. At least Debbie went quickly from an aneurism & avoided the cancer fate.
Debbie was involved with so many other clubs & had a vast network of friends who loved her that if every one of them had shown up for her memorial service, it would’ve had to be held outside in the amphitheater up at WKU. I’ve always found it to be odd that when someone dies, they are suddenly elevated to sainthood status by friends & especially family. All of a sudden when their life is snuffed out they instantly become this wonderful, great person to be admired, when most of the time you knew them they were at the very least, a pill to take & at the most, a big butthole. And as you sit there listening to them eulogize about how fantastic & Godly this person was, you begin to wonder…….”Am I at the right funeral?”
That could never be said about Debbie, because everyone who came into contact with her instantly loved her. She always had a smile on her face for everyone. I’d see her through the window as she walked across the parking lot wearing her white shorts & T-shirt (Debbie had great legs & with her tan looked good in white). She’d saunter into the salon her usual 5 minutes late, open the door, & smiling say “Whaaazzuuuup?” Even when her nails were treacherously bad, I never dreaded seeing Debbie. She was truly such a kind, caring, honest, decent, fun loving, compassionate woman, with a great sense of humor & a deep love for her family & friends. At only 53 yrs. old when she left us, I always thought we’d be friends till we were both withered little prunes (her faster than me, because she loved to tan by the pool).
I’d wanted to start this blog out with a different funny story, but the timing didn’t turn out right. So in honor of Debbie, I’ll split the difference & share one of my favorite funny Debbie stories…..& she won’t mind if I use her real name.
The Dog-napping Incident”
When Debbie’s young brother-in-law & his wife Brandy moved here, they lived for a time at Debbie’s house, which was a huge Parade-of-Homes house (grand homes built especially to showcase builder’s & interior designers talents, which tickets are then sold to the public to tour them one weekend & proceeds go to the local builder’s association). Brandy & her husband were in the process of putting a bid on a house when they decided to adopt a dog. This particular dog had been found as a stray & the woman who found it was trying to find it a good home.
For some reason, this person’s friend basically organized the adoption process & created a form for would-be owners to fill out. This person required that the new owners keep the dog indoors & not make it an outdoor farm dog, etc. etc. Very elaborate hoops to jump through with filling out this form. Remember now….this was a mixed breed mutt that no one wanted….not a pure bred show dog, plus she wasn’t even the one who’d found the dog. So being young & confident in their house bid, they listed that address on the form as their place of residence. They must’ve passed all the other stringent requirements because they were allowed to adopt the dog, which they named “Gypsy”.
As unfortunately happens sometimes, their bid fell through on the house, so Gypsy had temporary lodgings with Debbie’s other dogs…..all which were housed in a dog pen at the back of Debbie’s property. A few days later Debbie gets a frantic call from her daughter, who was a young teen at the time & was home alone that day. She said an angry woman came to the door demanding to see the dog & when she found out that Gypsy was in the backyard pen, she stormed around the house, across the backyard, opened the pen, snatched up Gypsy, & drove away!
The woman said that they had violated their agreement to keep this dog inside the house, so she was taking the dog back! Jenny was so upset, then so was Debbie, & when Brandy found out, she was crying & upset, too. Debbie called the woman who originally placed the ad in the paper to find out what was going on, but the woman had no idea either. All they could surmise was that this friend of hers who’d orchestrated the adoption process must’ve gone to the address Brandy had listed on the form & saw a big “For Sale” sign in the yard. Then she went to Debbie’s home because they were listed as a reference.
They tried to get the woman to return Gypsy by explaining the situation of the dogs’ temporary lodgings, plus assure her that Brandy did indeed plan to make Gypsy a house dog, but the woman wouldn’t listen to reason & was planning to adopt the dog out again! Now at this point in time, Debbie worked at a law office & was on familiar terms with many influential people in town. So in short turn, there sits Debbie & Brandy in the office of the county prosecuting attorney, explaining their situation to him!
By now the woman had disappeared with Gypsy, stating that she’d never give them the dog & the woman’s own husband couldn’t even talk her into being reasonable! After listening to their story, the county prosecuting attorney asks Brandy “Can you tell me what is so special about this dog that you can’t just go adopt another one?”. As Brandy starts listing all of Gypsy’s attributes, such as “she’s a good dog”, “she’s so sweet”, and so forth….she suddenly bursts into tears & wails “She’s OUR Gyyyyypsyyyyy & weeeee just love hhheeeeeerrrr!” …..as Debbie consoles a sobbing Brandy while from across the desk the man gets this stricken look on his face.
That did it. The county attorney immediately picked up the phone & called the original woman who’d placed the ad (her friend was still on the lam with the dog & was in hiding). He told her to relay the message that if Gypsy was not returned to a designated meeting place by such & such time the next morning……a warrant would be sworn out for her arrest for theft & the sheriff would take her to jail in handcuffs!
Gypsy was returned the following morning as scheduled & was happily reunited with her family, who soon after that successfully bought a house. Ultimately Gypsy became an indoor dog as planned, Brandy eventually had a baby boy, & Gypsy was well cared for the rest of her days.
Moral of the story: do not mess with a woman who works for attorneys.
Debbie & Jenny – “Roll Tide”.
Debbie & Jenny- before the rain.
Debbie- as I always will remember her….animatedly telling me another story.