March 12, 2008

My cousin and my friend

I have been sitting on several hard copies of remarks that were made at Deb’s memorial in Asheville because I had a pinched nerve and couldn’t type much. Now I have a new scanner and software. Many apologies for the delay.

This one was written by Dawn Jablonski:

As Debbie's younger cousin, I grew up idolizing her. Even though we were only 15 months apart she always seemed so much older and wiser. She was somewhat my protector because for some reason I was always so scared of Kim. Growing up I spent many summers down here in North Carolina with Debbie, and I will always cherish those memories.

There were many things about Deb that separated her from other people. For example, I am sure that most of you who spent time talking with her realized that Debbie was not just hearing what you had to say — she was actually listening. Her mind seemed to be always churning as she absorbed your words and challenged your statements. I remember right after Brian and I were married, Deb kept us both up most of the night wanting to understand why we needed a piece of paper to prove our love... I honestly left that conversation feeling I had been in a mental fight for my life; drained at the end (and honestly a bit confused and to why indeed I did need that piece of paper) but also so gratified that she was actually listening and giving different perspectives.

She also had such a strong impact on people from the first moment she met them. My grandmother has nurse aides who stop by to take care of her throughout the day. After Debbie's brief visit to grandma's, one aide was so (enthralled) impressed that she wrote a poem about Debbie. I would like to read just a few lines from the poem entitled The Equalizer of Her Time: "She spoke with such passion, Her enthusiasm glowed, loving life. Her laughter resonates. With her toothy smile, she captures you". That's it — she would capture you! She had these brilliant blue eyes that seemed to be able to look into your soul. Debbie certainly touched so many lives with such little effort.

Then there were the people Debbie met throughout her life. I really do not think that Debbie ever realized how much she touched so many with her personality and actions. I remember hearing the story of the homeless man in Santa Barbara who asked Debbie for money. She didn't have cash on her that day but did have her checkbook. Yep, she not only wrote the man a check but then proceeded to take him to the bank to make sure he/would get the money he needed.

Debbie was unselfishly giving...I take that back. Except when it came to muffins. Debbie was notorious for eating only the muffin tops. Anytime there was a box full of muffins you would know right away if Debbie knew they were there — all the tops would be missing.
I remember in high school Deb wore this huge watch, it was actually a man's watch. I remember always wondering why she wore it. I don't think that it was to tell time. Debbie didn't believe in time. She always seemed to be running late. She lived in the moment. I envied her for that... to be able to stop and see the beauty in the simple things, the things that we take for granted. Debbie knew that life is about the journey and taking the time to capture the moments.

When you think about Debbie's profession, photography was truly the perfect match for who she was. In addition to being a mom, a sister, a daughter, a cousin, an aunt and a friend, through her photographs we got a chance to view the world as Debbie saw it.

So today let's not dwell on the sadness of this occasion; but let's reflect on our own personal memories of Debbie and keep her alive in our hearts.

I am grateful that Debbie was a part of my life and I am thankful for all of the memories that will keep her alive in my heart, because Deb was not only my cousin but she was also my friend.

—Dawn Jablonski

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