April 15, 2008

To Sue and Raymond from Charlene Reeves

Dear Mama Sue and Papa Ray:

It is late Wednesday evening or should I say very early Thursday morning. I cannot sleep and was thinking about you both and decided to write you a note.

For beginners, Deb’s service was wonderful and absolutely perfect. It gave everyone there a sense of who she was, how she carried herself with kindness and how very much she is loved. I believe it to be a gift when a person finds their true calling and anyone who looks at her photographs can see she was doing what she was meant to do. She gave parts of herself back to the world in her work and they will forever remain there. She led a life of significance.

While Deb without a doubt was a very special person; I believe she acquired her heart and compassion from her parents. You are some of the most remarkable people I have ever met. I respect and honor you for so many things. For the loyalty and love you gave to Deb on a wonderful journey and to that journey’s end. For the commitment, patience and love you have demonstrated in raising a beautiful granddaughter. For the faithfulness and devotion confirmed by your friends. For the acceptance and kindness you have given to me again and again.


I am so very, very thankful to have all of you in my life. I cannot begin to express how much it meant to me to be included and asked to help with Deb’s service. You both have taught me many things and there is nothing I would not do for any of you. It is a privilege to have you as part of my family.

I also give thanks for having the brief opportunity to know Debbie. If a life is measured by what you do with it in the brief time you are given, then Deb’s life surpassed all measures. I do not think there was one person that she met that was not touched or influenced by her. Think of how many people that is and how far that travels. It is something we should all work towards. I don’t think I will ever be able to look at a sunset, glorious sunrise or any of nature’s other beauties again without wondering if somehow Deb is not playing a part in it. I believe she has found a peace we all seek but few of us ever find.

Know that I love all of you very much and will help however I can.

April 5, 2008

Some readings from the Asheville memorial service

Read by Kathryn Ruff Hildreth:

Here is the passage I read at Debbie's memorial. It is from Toni Morrison's Sula, one of the greatest stories of friendship in American literature. We felt because Debbie was so close to so many people, and because she brought out the best in those around her, this particular passage would be a fitting tribute to her.

Debbie was a brilliant and warm conversationalist. I remember vividly many of our talks over the years. I miss her and think of her every day.


Her old friend had come home. Sula. Who made her laugh, who made her see old things with new eyes, in whose presence she felt clever, gentle, and a little raunchy. Sula, whose past she had lived through and with whom the present was a constant sharing of perceptions. Talking to Sula had always been a conversation with herself. Was there anyone else before whom she could never be foolish? In whose view inadequacy was a mere idiosyncrasy, a character trait than a deficiency? Anyone who left behind that aura of fun and complicity? Sula never competed; she simply helped others define themselves.
—Toni Morrison's Sula

Read by Holly Ruff:
Sing Me to Heaven

In my heart's sequestered chambers lie truths stripped
of poet's gloss.
Words alone are vain and vacant and my heast is mute.
In response to aching silence, memory summons
half-heard voices, and my soul finds primal eloquence
and wraps me in song.

If you would comfort me, sing me a lullaby. If you
would win my heart, sing me a love song. If you would
mourn me and bring me to God, sing me a requiem, sing
me to heaven.
Touch in me, all love and passion, pain and pleasure,
Touch in me, grief and comfort; love and passion, pain
and pleasure.

Sing me a lullaby, a love song, a requiem. Love me,
comfort me, bring me to God. Sing me a love song, sing
me to heaven.
—Danile Gawthrop; text by Jane Griner