Growing up, Aunt Debbie earned the title "Crazy Aunt Debbie," not because she was insane, but because she could turn the most mundane situation into a party. Debbie had a way of making you feel special on the most ordinary of days whether she was encouraging my shoe addiction by hours of dress up in her closet of Jimmy Choos and Manolos or teaching my sister the art of painting, she was helping mold her nieces into the women they would become. We begged to have her babysit us, knowing a night with Deb promised makeup and make believe. We marveled at her home filled with masterpieces of local artists as well as her own. We looked forward to her famous Auburn tailgates in the fall and to her fabulous white Christmas trees and brunch during the holidays. I developed a love of sterling silver, of artfully wrapped gift giving, and of finding the perfect shoes for any occasion. Quite simply, Deb made life more fun.
At Debbie's service, my dad recalled a childhood story from a family vacation. As they traveled down the road, Dad and Debbie in the backseat picking at one another as only brother and sister do, she took his shoe and threw it out of the window. It bounced down the highway into oblivion. "Terry threw his shoe out the window," she tattled. Dad laughed as he remembered this day, recalling that every time he saw a single shoe in the middle of the road, he imagined how it got there and he thought of his sister. And now, whenever I am driving on an average day and notice a single shoe on the side of the road, I think of a young Debbie on a family road trip and I can't help but smile.
It is impossible not to shed tears when remembering her, because loss, while a part of life, is never easy and frankly, never fair; but I know my life is richer because she was a part of it. Through my tears, I smile, because although she is not physically here, she is everywhere I look.
Deb is everywhere in my home. Her artwork fills each room, her shoes fill my closet, and I carry her purse each day. Each year, decorating for Christmas makes me think of her and I smile. I have a small "fabulous white" Christmas tree in my kitchen and its ornaments are framed copies of her paintings. My daughter won't know her Aunt Debbie, but she'll know her. She'll know every story my family shares, every detail of every painting in our home. She'll know that sterling silver makes any meal special. She'll know that you're never truly dressed until you pick out the perfect shoes. She'll know that Chanel No. 5 is timeless. She'll know that being eccentric is a good thing. She'll know to laugh about the small stuff and lean on family through the big stuff. She'll know her because I will never forget her.
My life is certainly more fabulous because Deb was in it and I live every day hoping that I live my life according to Deb's philosophies. I hope that when I leave this world, it is better than it was when I found it. I hope that those I love know how much I truly love and appreciate them. I hope that I can make at least one person's life special because the relationships we share and the legacy we leave are what life is all about. Love and be loved and smile when you see lonely shoes along the highway.
|My BSC Graduation, May 2006|