We all lost a ‘keeper’ earlier this week when we lost Debbie, the former Debbie Barnett of Jackson, MS. Right now, when our loss is new and acute, we only think we know how much we’ve lost. The future will show us just how great our loss has been, and is, and will be.
Debbie was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. She was up when all the world was down, the positive that banished all the negatives around us all. She was a treat to have around… no, she was more than that… she was a necessity.
Our family met Debbie and her family at church, and it was an instant connection. Debbie was a teenager, and our brood of four daughters were much younger, so Debbie baby-sat a lot. When not ‘working,’ she came over to simply hang out. She and Carol grew close, even though there was a large gap in their ages. But their’s was more than a big sister/little sister relationship.
I honestly don’t think we’ve ever owned a home with doors that were ever locked. So our home was a home-away-from-home for many of the teens from church. Most were simply in and out, at all hours of the day or night. And some came and stayed, for days, weeks, even months. But Debbie’s home was only a short drive away, and her pillow normally remained at her home.
After church, there were five or six homes (including Shoney’s) where we congregated Sunday nights after church (finally) dismissed. Debbie’s perpetually under renovation home was one of our Sunday Night Food Troughs… as was ours. Billy and Earline Barnett (Debbie’s parents) really put on a spread… and we gobbled it up! The food was always plentiful and tops-notch. But the fellowship topped that! Oh the sweet memories.
Yes, Debbie was always one-of-a-kind… they broke the mold when she was born. She’s the only individual I’ve known personally whose day and month of passing is the same as that of their birth. She’s that unique! But what you might not know is that Debbie came very near to passing many years before… while she was in our home!
Debbie was there baby-sitting for us. Who knows where Carol and I were, I can’t remember that part. This was back before the days of plastic drink bottles, and all soft-drinks, even the big ones, came in glass bottles. We were big Dr. Pepper drinkers at the Murphy’s. There were usually one or two in the frig, and two or three more sitting on the floor around the frig. Debbie was bare-foot. You see where this is going.
She reached inside the frig, and accidentally knocked over a large bottle of Dr. Pepper. It crashed to the floor and the glass shattered. Somehow, the base retained its shape, on the floor, right side up, but with long razor sharp shards sticking up like shark’s teeth. Debbie stepped back… and one of those long sharp shards sliced deep into her ankle, not just cutting her, but slicing an artery in her ankle!
Long story short… Earline and Billy rushed to our house, saw the damage, and sped Debbie to the hospital, where, Earline promptly passed out. The doctors told Billy that within a few minutes more, Debbie would have bled out!
I believe that my favorite ‘Debbie Story’ is the one about tomato sandwiches, hence the photo above. Debbie enjoyed two things a LOT. One was swimming, and the other was having a customary tomato sandwich after a swim. We got a call one day from her Dad. He was calling from home. “You won’t believe this,” he said. “I wouldn’t believe it either unless I’d just witnessed it myself. But Debbie got back from swimming a while ago, and she’s just consumed EIGHT TOMATO SANDWICHES!
Bob Hope was famous for his ‘Thanks for the memories.’ Debbie, we don’t really want just memories. We want to be still making memories with you. That’s what we really want. But since we can’t have that, we can all be thankful for all the wonderful memories that do have, and will always have and cherish, of you, and of your bubbly, positive life. Thanks Debbie! Thanks for all the memories you made with us!