We have sad news in the Chandler family this week. Our niece, Deana—the daughter of Steve's sister Danna--passed away. It was sad and it was shocking. Deana was a young, wild, fun, outrageous, beautiful, loving, brilliant (and I mean BRILLIANT), red-lipstick-wearing, funny (and I mean FUNNY) mom/daughter/friend/sister/niece..... And a million other things. A force of nature, she was often called. She loved her three amazing kids (her kittens, she called them) so hard that anyone within 100 miles couldn’t possibly not know it. She managed the Anthropologie store in Boise, Idaho--which was the perfect place for her to spread her exquisite taste and her love of making others feel wonderful about themselves—making them feel even prettier than Deana herself (hard to achieve, believe me).
Her family asked us to submit our memories of Deana, and I sent them this one; it immediately came to mind when they asked. So I’m sharing it here, just because. Here’s to you, wild girl:
I didn't really have much one-on-one time with Deana, but we did share many family gatherings over the years. I'll tell you my main memory of Deana. It centers around Christmas and the Chandler Family Gift Exchange. At some point, the family decided that instead of everyone giving gifts to everyone, we'd just do the "Secret Santa" thing; you know, we'd pick names and get a gift for that family member--with no one knowing who had whom until the day of the Christmas gathering. Anyway, Deana--who I seem to think was a teacher at the time--just took over! She announced that each year we'd all have to write a poem about the person we picked and would have to read the poem aloud before presenting the gift; and not only that, but Deana would choose exactly what kind of poem it would be each year--haiku, sonnet, and even something called a cinquain one year. (Which took a lot of explanation, believe me. And most of us still got it way wrong, of course.)
Anyway, the whole family basically resented her for this. There was MUCH grumbling about Deana being bossy, taking over, telling us what to do, etc. And yet--and this is my favorite part--everyone "obeyed" her rules every year! Every year! We'd all grumble about what a drag it is, we don't know how to write a poem, it's hard enough to choose a gift, blah blah blah. But, but, but. On the day of the family Christmas party, we would have a BLAST. It was so so fun to hear everyone's poem, good or awful as they were. There were even tears on occasion! We'd all go home happy and touched--or possibly just hilariously amused--by the poem someone had written specifically for us. The gifts? They were awfully nice. But I think it was the poems that we each remembered the most afterwards. In my opinion (and everyone's, I suspect) it turned out to be a great Christmas tradition--even though you might say we all looked forward to it with dread. :-) Deana started a family tradition! What a great leader, what a sparkplug. That's always been my main memory/thought of Deana; she RULED the Chandlers--and we loved it, despite our resistance.
So we say goodbye, Deana. It's so hard to believe you're gone. But your bright, bright light is still shining for us all. And to (mis)quote Peter, Paul and Mary, We won't let the light go out.
"Between grief and nothing, I will take grief." . . .
~ William Faulkner