At this moment, 9 hours 7 minutes and 633 miles away, a beautiful person is being remembered in a Funeral Mass at St. John Vianney Catholic Church. One of the classiest Southern ladies I have ever known, Deborah McNeill was my friend and distance didn’t matter. We met in the late 80’s as sorority advisers for Psi Chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta at the University of Alabama. She only lived in Tuscaloosa a couple of years or so but we have maintained our friendship through the years, thanks to Verizon and AT&T. She was one of those friends, that you may not talk to often, but when you do, it’s like you just talked to her the day before.
Our conversations often started with Deborah asking, “what’s the word on the street?” most often related to Alabama football. Being true Southern girls, we know (or at least, we think we know) our football! Now Deborah would have just listened to ESPN Sports Center or to the opinion of Paul Finebaum but she always wanted MY opinion on who the new coach would be, if Lane Kiffin was leaving, if Alabama was going to beat Auburn or Georgia or Texas A & M or whoever they were playing or just about whatever was going on at the time, especially in the SEC. Perhaps she thought I had inside knowledge since my husband worked in athletics and now with FOX and ESPN or maybe she just knew I loved talking sports. There were no short conversations in our friend history!
Not only did we cover sports, our conversations always included our families. She never failed to ask about my girls or about Barry – always asking “where’s Barry going this weekend?” (For football or baseball) and always getting an update on Elle and Annie’s activities. She was genuinely interested in my family and she was always happy to share about hers – updating me on husband, Tom, and daughter, Hayley. She was most excited about Hayley’s upcoming wedding.
It was the bond of sisterhood that brought us together in the first place. From Alpha Gams at Troy and Georgia to working together with Alpha Gam at Alabama! Good times, great memories from that experience together. Up until a couple of years ago (when they stopped publishing it in the newspaper), I always sent her the University of Alabama recruitment list as soon as it was published or posted online. We always talked about the list as if we knew each and every girl on the list. Her service to Alpha Gamma Delta was amazing – 4O+ years of service in various capacities. Over the past few days, since I heard the devastating news, I took at look at the Alpha Gamma Delta Purpose and considered how it applied to my friend.
To gain understanding that wisdom may be vouchsafed to me. √
To develop and prize health and vigor of body; √
To cultivate acquaintances with many whom I meet. √
To cherish friendship with but a chosen few and to study the perfecting of those friendships.√
To welcome the opportunity of contributing to the world’s work in the community where I am placed because of the joy of service thereby bestowed and the talent of leadership multiplied. √
To honor my home, my country, my religious faith. √
To hold truth inviolable, sincerity essential, kindness invaluable. √
To cover beauty in environment, manner, word and thought. √
To possess high ideals and to attain somewhat unto them. √
This shall be my purpose that those who know me may esteem Alpha Gamma Delta for her attainments, revere her for her purposes and love her for her woman hood. √
No doubt that in all of her years of service and commitment to Alpha Gamma Delta, she checked off every aspect of it’s purpose. You can see that here….Deborah’s Obituary
Another thing that Deborah and I shared a passion for was being a volunteer. If you read her obituary, you read about her community activities. I believe her actual degree was in fundraising and she was always interested in such activities that I was involved in with my Annie’s school, Sprayberry Center. If fact, she didn’t just want to hear about it – she wanted to be a part of it! Over the years, she has purchased cookbooks, contributed to the library that is named for my Father and most recently, she purchased a brick during our Brick by Brick campaign. When the bricks are laid at the school entrance, there will be my sweet friend’s name forever reminding me of all the love and support she offered to me in my endeavors for Sprayberry!
My memories of my dear friend are many and so very special – way more than I could ever share in a blog spot but I must share the final “Word on the Street”
Deborah…… ‘Word On the Street” says that you were a lot of fun and full of life….that you always showed great kindness to others – I don’t ever remember hearing you say an unkind word about anyone….that you knew ALOT about SEC football and I loved talking about it with you…..that you were an amazing Mom…..that you were the best sister-to your real life sister and to your many Alpha Gam “sisters”….. that YOU fulfilled a great purpose on this earth!
Until we meet again, I will keep up with the latest football news (I might even listen to Finebaum), I will cheer for Georgia and Texas A&M unless, of course, they are playing Alabama and know you will understand, I will keep in touch with your family, I will continue to be involved in my community because you set the example, and I will always, always remember the times we had together and cherish every moment.
I will miss you my sweet friend!