Tribute to Diane
Diane is such a cherished loved one and friend for so many reasons that it’s impossible to speak in one place or one time to every remarkable quality that she shared with the rest of us. That is why we will continue to remember and talk about her for the rest of our lives.
Today it is difficult to talk about her without tears flowing because we are going to miss her. Our tears honor what she has meant to us. Washington Irving said, “There is sacredness in tears … They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief … and unspeakable love.”
So while we can never fully convey what Diane meant to us, we can focus on some of her unique and lovely qualities that will touch us forever.
First of all, Diane was the essence of femininity, a self-described “girly girl.” She liked softness, pink, sparkle and flowers. She loved babies. She possessed a gorgeous smile set off by cheery dimples. A tall, beautiful blonde, she was so willowy in high school that the Centralette uniform she wore was extra eye-catching. Although her appearance was stunning, she was modest and humble. But when Diane entered a room in her naturally graceful way, everyone noticed; she was truly captivating.
That softness was balanced by a fierce and tenacious will, however, that saw her through many rough times. Diane embodied the essence of the phrase, “Steel Magnolia.” She was soft as a velvety peony petal on the outside, never hesitating to hug anyone, but she had a formidable inner strength, as well. She never wavered in her moral convictions, never gave up on important goals and handled life on her own terms, in the way she saw most appropriate. She had complete integrity and held herself to high standards. Her courage, especially in facing this disease head-on, left us astonished and inspired.
Diane was a respectful, devoted daughter. She shared recently: “I always knew I was loved by my parents. They would do anything for me.” Her parents were there for her in good and bad times, particularly as her father, Dean, vigilantly looked after her every need or desire during this illness. Surely Diane learned about devotion, service and concern for others from Mr. and Mrs. Gosnell. They raised a wonderful daughter who loved them very much.
She was both younger sister and older sister, speaking so often and with such pride of her siblings, nieces and nephews that her friends felt as if they knew them, too. Deanna, Darlene, and Doug, we know that you each have memories you will carry in your hearts forever. From your earliest years through the last weeks, your memories are ones only siblings can know and treasure.
As a student, Diane was serious and focused, but she was quick to point out that her good grades were achieved by a lot of hard work on her part: “I got good grades, yes, but they didn’t come easily. Let me tell you, I worked for them.” She earned every grade and honor she received, and her yearbook pictures and organizations prove there were many.
As a nurse in Ball Memorial Hospital’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit, Diane poured herself into caring for fragile infants and emotionally distressed parents. Nursing was a great career choice for Diane because she was a giver, always interested in the well-being of others. Even from her hospital bed, she rejoiced to hear about a friend’s sister successfully battling cancer. She remembered details about friends’ lives and their children’s lives, asking specific questions about how things were going. She embraced a lovely tradition from her mother of sending cards in the mail to friends. Diane would rejoice with you or cry with you. Empathy made her a great nurse and friend.
Speaking of friendship, Diane knew how to share life with friends. She encouraged you when you were down and made you feel as though your feelings were legitimate and that you weren’t crazy. Diane had a great sense of humor and even joked with us girls when we had our weekly “Girls Group” around her hospital bed. Recently, while a nurse was administering medicine, Diane told her, “If I could tell you something useful to you at your young age, I would say, ‘Grab a hold of a faith-based group of friends. It makes life wonderful.’”
The most defining role for Diane, though, was motherhood. She was completely dedicated to her family. When her children were little, she was a firm and consistent disciplinarian. She was fierce in her protection of them and taught them to be well-mannered and considerate. Ann and Luke shared that she pioneered the idea of sneezing into your inner elbow rather than into your hands or the air. In fact, when one of them would begin to cough or sneeze, Diane would command: “ELBOW!” and they knew what to do!
Her conversation was full of what her children were up to and achieving. She simply adored her kids, and Ann reminded us that we have hundreds of photos to back up that assertion! Diane wanted to capture every moment in their lives. In fact, it’s a family joke that there are many pictures of Luke running away from her camera, as he did not exactly care to have his life documented in photos. Too bad, Luke!
Luke describes his mother as energetic and someone with good manners. She was a second mom to all of his friends, and many girls at prom time wanted to have their picture taken with Diane because she meant so much to them. She never stopped being a social butterfly.
Ann recalls how Diane did special things for them when they were younger, like create signs with fancy handwriting for their door announcing whatever was happening in their lives, whether it was a sports event or honors or birthdays. She will always cherish the memory of sharing ice cream together every day of every summer. And she has expressed her gratitude for Diane’s help and support during all of her wedding preparations. By the way, Diane claims that she “picked out” Andrew for Ann because she pointed him out to her once before they started dating. Ann and Andrew laugh at this, but anyone who knows the power behind Diane’s will might be inclined to believe her! Ann says she cherishes the honest but gentle way her mother communicated with her, exhibiting the character of Christ in her speech and actions.
Most importantly, Diane laid a great foundation for Ann and Luke in the Lord, and her greatest hope is that they will always walk with Him through this life and that she will see them in the next.
Diane’s resolute, unwavering faith in God throughout this illness has inspired us beyond what we can express. Occasionally, we hear of such quiet strength and endurance in the face of great physical and emotional challenges; now we have witnessed this first-hand. Diane has demonstrated to us how to face the most challenging circumstances without becoming bitter or hopeless.
Ann shared recently how Diane told her and Luke, "God never said life would be easy, but He did promise He would be there." Oswald Chambers wrote, “A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another … but it is a life of day-in and day-out consistency … a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test.” Diane’s faith has most certainly been tried and proven, and she leaves a legacy of genuine faith for us. Because of this, we know the Father has already spoken the words over her, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Full of grace, elegance, beauty
Soft and feminine, yet strong and resolute
Loving, devoted daughter
Friend to many
Abounding in moral strength and indescribable courage
Daughter of God, faithful follower of Christ
Diane, we know that you are waiting for us, and that while you may seem far away, you are near, and in a very short time, in just a breath, we will see you again. Until then, we will always cherish the sparkle in your eyes, your dimpled smile and enthusiasm for life. Thank you for sharing life with us. You made it wonderful.