March 31, 2008

I dreamed about Debra last night

And just plain woke up sad.
Watched the video again and cried.

And then I scanned this Polaroid of her from our time photographing Christie Hefner in Chicago at the Playboy offices.
Isn't she cute in those bunny slippers?

Later when the photo shoot was over and we'd had dinner and wandered around a very freezing Chicago downtown—we were accosted by a man with a horse and carriage who implored us to be his last fare of the evening at a discounted price. Debra, being a sucker for anyone's plea for help said, "oh let's go!"
My god what a terrible ride that was, somehow the smell from the horse's diaper was pumped directly into the plastic covered cab we were sitting in—we choked, gasped and laughed all the way through a too cold, too smelly and thankfully too-short ride.
But such is the charm of Debra's company and her enthusiasm for every experience, that I look back on that so fondly ...and with tears in my eyes.

Debra, I miss you so much.


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

"The sister I never had"

From Stacy:

Debbie was the sister I never had.

We first met as middle school cheerleaders for the A. C. Reynolds Rockets. Debbie was a year older than I and had Jay Beachboard wrapped around her finger. I thought she was magical. In high school, we cheered together again and bonded over camp and The Jackson Victory Tour. We told everyone a white sequined hand had waved to us from a limo window and we just knew it was Michael.

We cruised around town in her yellow MG convertible, she always wanting the top down, and I always wanting it up. We thought we were cool. Debbie introduced us as Jessica and Alexis to many a young man on Patton Avenue and at Mr. Gatti's Pizza in Hendersonville. We were always cousins from someplace else, New York City, Charlotte, Charleston, Richmond, New Orleans ... It was funny to listen to her spin the tale and try to keep a straight face while talking to these new strangers.

Debbie and I loved to "wrastle" and "psyche" people. We started a baking company called The Cookie Crumble Company (3 Cs for short) and sold a dozen cookies for a dollar. We'd stay up all night making cookies and fall asleep on the kitchen floor.

Debbie inspired me. She brought me out of my shell. Debbie was adventurous and exciting. She encouraged me to be more, do more, and live more. She was the wind beneath my wings. With her, my shyness seemed to evaporate. Any time spent with Debbie was bound to be full of questions, laughter, more questions, and meeting people. She dove into everything that interested her and embraced things so completely. She unconditionally loved
those she touched.

My freshman year at Chapel Hill, we shared a dorm room in Alexander. We didn't really like our bunk beds, so like many dorm students, we decided to build a loft. We measured, designed, and hammered. We were so excited to have a sturdy place to lay our heads and some room underneath to entertain. We climbed up into our loft that first night and giggled and laughed because we realized we hadn't accounted for the thickness of our mattresses.

Debbie said, "My nose can almost touch the ceiling," and I said, "My boobs can almost touch the ceiling," and we laughed some more. On graduation day, she called me and said, "Let's go naked under our Carolina blue caps and gowns. Let's just wear our cowboy boots!"

Don't worry Ray and Sue, I still can't seem to find those pictures...

Life took us to separate parts of the world and on different adventures, but Debbie always managed to find me, or I her. We met in Warsaw, Orlando, San Francisco, Toronto, and Asheville. When I lived in Michigan, she came to meet my first grade students in Detroit. The kids adored her. She explained the different parts of her camera and the process of developing film. I watched as she asked questions of each precious child, and snapped a picture at just the right moment to capture the beauty and personality of each one. For the rest of the year, the kids asked me when Miss Debbie was coming back to take more pictures of them. They thought she was their personal photographer, and that's how Debbie made you feel, like you were the only person there.

The last time I got to spend some time with Debbie was this past year, when she brought Frankie Ray to Raleigh to visit my chaotically organized family for a few days. We laughed over the possibility of switching lives every couple of weeks so we could understand and enjoy what we were experiencing. I wanted to travel to exotic locations to photograph and meet famous people and she wanted to see what having 3 kids with one on the way felt like. We had a blast, drinking coffee on my porch swing, watching all the kids play and getting into a pillow fight, discussing life and its complexities, and sipping red wine well into the morning hours.

Debbie was the sister I never had. I will always think of her when I bake chocolate chip cookies, look at the small sliver of a silver moon hanging in the night sky, or see an eagle soaring high above looking for the perfect place to land.

—Stacy Andrew Arch

Debbie Debbie Do, my angel

From Uncle Bill:

You requested that I put in writing what I spoke during Debbie's memorial. Of course, this is not verbatim as I have a hard time remembering what I said five minutes ago let alone a week ago, but I will try.

I used as a reference a little book called "When You Lose Someone You Love ... Comfort
for Those Who Grieve” by Richard Exley.

The Apostle Paul tells us, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who
mourn" (Rom. 12:15). And the writer of Ecclesiastes declares: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: ... A time to weep and a time to laugh, A time to mourn and a time to dance."
—Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him...He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him."
—I Thessalonians 4:13, 14; 5:10

The Hein Family has had a habit of having nicknames for various individuals. One in particular Grandma Boo Boo who is the matriarch of the Hein Family. She is now 88 years old and is sitting in the front row. Her traits have affected all of us, myself, Sue, Bonnie and have transferred down to our children, especially Debbie. Just as an example Grandma Boo Boo does things her way. Just last week for her 88th birthday I bought her a brand new high-definition 43" plasma television to replace her 29" TV. After watching the TV for approximately 15 minute she said it was too bright. I tried to adjust the brightness, however, Grandma Boo Boo was still not content and as a matter of fact she said "Get rid of it I don't like it". Needless to say there was no changing her mind so I therefore took it back to the store (which did not take back returns) and tried to explain my situation. After talking with the store manager for over 15 minutes I asked him if he wanted to talk to my Mother and have her explain it to him. He graciously declined and immediately gave me a full refund. I could have or should have purchased a pair of sunglasses for my Mother!

Debbie McClinton is very much like her Grandmother and always does whatever she likes to do. My nickname for her was Debbie Debbie DO.

"I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, "You are my servant"; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand....
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you. "
—Isaiah 41 :9,10,13

I personally, firmly believe in the bible and in angels. Debbie was truly an angel to me back in 1993 when I was going through my divorce. I was depressed and at a very low point in my life. One afternoon Debbie came out of nowhere, of course, not living in Buffalo but showing up and asking me out to dinner. She knew at that time that I was hurting because of the divorce yet she took time out of her schedule to come to Buffalo just to talk. I distinctly remember Debbie paying for dinner and being such an encourager with her beautiful smile and blue eyes. She was my angel that day who brought me peace and comfort.

"When you pass through the waters, 1will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,they will not sweep over you....
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior....”
— Isaiah 45:2,3

I know Debbie has peace and comfort now!