“Joyful, Authentic, and Courageous”
IN DEDICATION AND IN LOVING MEMORY: MAY YOU REST IN ETERNAL JOY.
This woman is the definition of strength. This woman has impacted the lives of many with her positivity and resilience. This woman was the very first woman to be honored with a Boudika pin. Unfortunately, this woman is no longer with us on earth. She believed in what I was doing and was one of my biggest advocates. I promised her that she would be honored and her story would live on because of her impact so spread far and wide. Although, I didn’t get to interview her, I would like to share with you the eulogy that I spoke at her funeral.
On behalf of the Edmonds family, I would like to thank you all for being here today. We gather to remember, to honor, and to celebrate the life of Debbie Edmonds. Your presence here signifies just how many lives she impacted in her 60 years on this earth.
As I speak to all of you, I will be referring to her as “Auntie Debbie,” that is who she was to me. Growing up, and I know the rest of her nieces and nephews can attest to this, she was quick to correct you if you only called her “Debbie.” She would look at you and say “What did you call me? It’s Auntie Debbie.”
She was so proud of that title along with: daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, wife, cousin, co-worker, fiancé and friend.
During one of my last visits with her, I told her that I had been searching for a song that could help me sum up the way that I felt about her.She responded with, “Ooh, and what song did you pick, Kelly?” and then smiled and raised her eyebrows. I said, “Love can build a bridge” by the Judds.” I then explained to her that she has always been the bridge in our family, in her community and in her circle of friends.
The first to offer to host a holiday get together and for always ensuring that everyone felt welcome. She held all four sisters together and did whatever she could to make her long distance sister feel closer to home. Family was everything to her.
Her love spread so far and wide- her network of friends she has built throughout the years is quite inspiring. I saw a comment on facebook that said, “Who doesn’t like Deb Edmonds?” and this brought a smile to my face because this couldn’t be more true- if you met her, you loved her.
She carried the torch of a single parent for several years as I don’t think many people could. Her three children have grown into such wonderful human beings because of the nurturing and life lessons from their mother. She taught them that you show up no matter what happens in this world. My Uncle, gave her the best advice, and she not only believed it, but she lived it, everyday.
“NEVER STOP LOVING, LIVING, DOING.”
Her children surrounded her in love and rallied beside her by providing exceptional support and care for her to ensure that she was comfortable and lived her final days at peace at home.
Her sweetie and so many other close friends and family also were there for her. Love filled her house and everyone could feel it. It is a true life testament that you get what you give. And she gave love far beyond to others without hesitation. It was overwhelming to see the amount of people that continued to pour thru her front door on a daily basis and all of the letters, texts, and phone calls that she received. I remember her saying repeatedly, “I don’t know what is so special about little old me.” That was exactly what was so special about her. She was AUTHENTIC. Effortlessly herself. So true. As she would say, “No Bullshit.” She didn’t waste her time or energy on things that did not suit her.
Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life and your experiences in it.
My auntie Debbie has always been one of the strongest women I have ever known. I have looked up to her since as long as I could remember. This week, my cousin introduced me to “The Dash Poem”. I had never read this before.
What this poem beautifully illustrates is that “the dash” is referred to the time between our day of birth and our last day on earth. It represents how we choose to live and love throughout our time here. And when we leave this earth, those who remember us, truly are the ones left to appreciate the value of our dash. If we did this correctly, we will leave a rippling impact behind.
Debbie is a perfect example of how to live your dash to the fullest. She played the hand that she was dealt even when it was not easy. From recovering from a motorcycle accident in her 20s, to fighting along side her late husband with his own battle of cancer, to her grace and dignity she shown through her own diagnosis of the illness.
She never once became bitter or asked “why me?” when any of these events occurred. She took these challenging moments and choose to rise above them. She could have crumbled and she didn’t. She could have become bitter but she didn’t. Instead, she chose happiness, faith, and joy, regardless of what was happening around her or to her.
A quote that reminds me of her is this,
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”
Debbie chose to focus on all of the positive things in her life. And in all things that brought her JOY. And it is no surprise that in return; others felt her positive energy. It was contagious. People were drawn to her because she was fun and full of life, and genuinely cared for others. One of the most valuable lessons she has taught all of us is that JOY is a choice.
Debbie has spread JOY is so many ways:
Within her Family, she was always the one to bring everyone together.
In her Friendships, this woman had a lot of friends, and not just friends that come and go; but life-long friends.
In her Community, she was always one of the first to help someone in need or to welcome them into her heart and her hometown of Hibbing, of which she was so proud to call home.
And lastly, In her Laugh and Smile, you always knew when Debbie entered a room; the life of the party to say the least.
What we need to remember is that it is not the amount of time we are here, but how many lives we impact in a positive way that matters. When you choose joy, you feel good. When you feel good, you do good. And when you do good, it reminds others of what joy feels like.
This week I scrolled thru all of the facebook and caring bridge comments and there were very common attributes that people used to describe her:
Having a Zest for life; an infectious laugh and smile
Full of grace and strength
One of a kind with a positive attitude
Humorous and Vivacious
Welcoming, inviting, and kind
Beautiful, caring, and inspiring
There are a few that I would like to share that I will read word for word now.
Debbie, she brightened everyone’s life just by being around her.
Debbie, everyone who goes to talk to you feels safe. They don’t worry about being judged. They don’t worry you’ll say something mean. It’ll just be that safe place in a world that can be so mean, and so unfair. You always laugh. You always smile. You always make others feel important. I wish there could be so many more, just like you! Thank you for always being you!
Deb, the courage you show is an amazing lesson we all should learn from on what is truly important in life. Love and peace are what matters.
And the last one, Your choice to be grateful is an inspiration to all.
Perhaps the most important attribute of all……..is……..her: Unforgettable joy.
Debbie commented herself on a facebook post about JOY. It said, “It’s everywhere.”
It truly is, we just need to seek it out for ourselves. May we choose it, even in our most difficult times.
Debbie’s impact will remain forever in our hearts. Each time you choose JOY…..you choose happiness just like Debbie. And there is no better way to live.
Thank you, Auntie Debbie for LIVING HERstory!