It’s My Honor
In everyone’s life there are different relationships. There are your parents, your siblings, your extended relatives, your spouse and your own children. You love each differently, but each relationship is a mixture of God’s grace, love and compassion. Sometimes, in a lifetime on earth one is blessed to have a very best friend. I have had the incredible privilege to have Debbie Meadows as my very best friend.
Two peas in a pod, salt and pepper, socks and shoes, you name the analogy of being together and that’s us. Two redheads from the South, fire and brimstone Baptist roots, bargain finding buddies, and teachers with the perfect balance of love, nurturing, and the look that says, “I told you to sit down and be quiet!” We taught so long together that we could finish each other’s sentences and could discipline a disobedient child with a look from across the room. I was the planner, the organizer and Debbie was the spontaneous one. There were several days when she would just throw up her hands, and say “ To hell with the planbook, we’re gonna have some fun today.” And with that statement, she would pull out the Rubbermaid blue tub so crammed with craft supplies it would make a Ben & Franklin employee blush with embarrassment.
Debbie made life fun and she taught me to laugh and to trust God completely when adversity kept my life stuck in the spin cycle. We could go in a store, look, piddle around, admire everything and never buy a thing. Our husbands never understood how we could just piddle around and never spend a dime. We went to every local southern gospel concert around and even ventured to VA Beach for a Christian Christmas concert. Yes, we were the bold ones, lifting our hands high in worship, singing, and dancing to the sweet music that filled our parched souls.
Over our school lunches of pimento cheese and crackers or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we contemplated life, cried over our kids, and swapped Paula Deen recipes. There aren’t enough words to describe a very best friend, this precious woman always thought of others first, never hesitated to help others and would cuss you out in a heartbeat if you did her wrong.
Debbie loved to be outside watching the birds in her backyard. Her early morning devotion time was spent with coffee, her old robe and sitting on her deck praying and enjoying God’s creation. She loved camping and being around the water. Cooking for her family brought her immense joy. Only Duke’s mayonnaise would be in her potato salad! Some women may like the mall or Stonypoint Fashion Park, but Debbie’s favorite store was the dollar store! Give her ten dollars to go in there and she was like a kid at Christmas time!
Holidays were always fun for her, decorating, cooking and giving gifts to others. She never missed a bargain at Kohls , but it was usually a gift for someone else and not herself. She loved Christmas and all its sparkle, glitter and fun, but she really loved Halloween. Bags and bags of candy were purchased just so she could see the sweet faces of children and guess who they were in their costumes.
The emotional and physical roller coaster of liver disease sucked away her precious life way too soon. Constant ups and downs of dealing with this unpredictable disease took its toll on her and her family. Because she always bounced back, I spiraled into denial of how sick she really was and missed opportunities to be with her. She never judged me or put me on a guilt trip; she was always gracious and never missed an opportunity to tell me how much she loved me. Southern sassiness and her straightforward attitude kept her a step beyond everyone else. She was my very best friend and beloved “Aunt Debbie” to my children. To her students, she was “Mrs. Meadows” and they’ll always remember her as the teacher they had fun with and were loved beyond measure.
How in the world do you say good-bye to your best friend? I can’t and I won’t, at least not right now. My precious memories of her will sustain me until I see her again…she’ll be the redhead dancing with Jesus. I love you my sweet friend, it’s been one of life’s greatest honors to have you as my very best friend.