By Reba Phelps
One score and four years ago I became engaged. It was a total “country mouse marries city mouse” situation and yours truly was the country mouse. This country mouse knew absolutely nothing about planning a city mouse wedding on a country mouse budget. I knew I wanted a classy and beautiful wedding but had zero thoughts about how to even begin the process. Almost instantaneously I was referred to Debbie Colvin.
I was told Debbie could make anything beautiful.
When I first met Debbie I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she was herself. Her hair and makeup were perfect and her clothing was perfectly pressed and coordinated as if she stepped out of a magazine. I had no doubt in her ability to turn my sow’s ear event into a silk purse wedding. Her first hurdle was to educate me as to why people buy one plate or one spoon as a wedding gift. I still have trouble with that one because in the land where I am from plates and silverware came in 20 piece sets and no one registered to become their owners.
Once we were in the middle of the wedding planning I quickly discovered Debbie was a walking rolodex full of connections in the underground society of beauty, makeup, catering, style, engagement photos, showers, teas, and wedding couture photos. Within 60 days she had put together a picture perfect wedding worthy of the country mouse turn city mouse story that would be told to our children one day.
Most people did not know that my mother was newly disabled and unable to fulfill a lot of the mother of the bride duties. Debbie took this job very seriously and always asked me to make sure she wasn’t overstepping her boundaries or offending my mother. My mother was immensely grateful for the help and when she was finally able to meet Debbie she thanked her for being such a blessing.
Being the mother of two daughters of her own Debbie knew the important and irreplaceable role that a mother plays in the life of her daughter.
The wedding went off without a hitch and that was the beginning of my friendship with Debbie and her family.
Through the years Debbie became a mother in law and soon after that she became a grandmother. Her and Jim’s family quickly expanded to include six grandchildren. These grandchildren soon took center stage and they were the beneficiaries of her multiple talents. She could sew for them, cook for them, and even decorate for them. But most importantly she had the heart of a grandmother who loved nothing more than being in the same space as her children and grandchildren.
Debbie became the “mother” of all grandmothers. And, the envy of the mothers and grandmothers who didn’t have the same talents she had. Even the grandchildren knew to “call Mimi she can make anything beautiful.”
In August of 2015 my talented, beautiful, big hearted, larger than life and family loving friend was diagnosed with cancer. It was the devastating type of news that no one ever wants to hear about a loved one…but somehow Debbie took her worries and concerns and made them much more livable. This also gave her permission to focus even more on the loves of her life and her faith.
I kept in touch with Debbie during her battle and prayed for her and her family diligently. I tried to do all of the things you were supposed to do. I offered to take her to treatments and I offered to cook or clean. I was always met with the same response. “Jim is taking such good care of me, he is taking me to every treatment and sits right there with me.”
She wouldn’t have it any other way.
Debbie also told me multiple times that she had so many people offering to help them that she didn’t even know. The whole community showed their love and support for the woman who had dedicated so much of her personal time helping children with pageants (including my own), brides with weddings and helping them plan their special occasions by making them more memorable.
My friend lost her battle with cancer in January of 2017 and she was surrounded by the ones who loved her the most. Those who knew her have no doubt that she lived a beautiful life and used her talents to touch the lives of so many people through the years. Even though she lost her earthly battle she left a legacy of love and faith for her family.
When I took the time to look for photos to use with my story I was completely astounded to see that I could not find one photo of her alone. She was always holding a child, helping a bride, helping at a shower or smiling with her husband, daughters or grandchildren. This was Debbie and how she lived.
I always end my stories with a scripture and for this one I chose the very last scripture she shred with others.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7