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Being a friend of Barbara Wood Denning is one of the greatest joys of my life. 


I have gone over and over our many memories—from funny stories to tragic ones.  I have always threatened to write a book, but Barbara said we might have to leave the country if I did.


If I wrote the book, I would have to include some of our mischief, from shooting straight pins across Tince Sorrell’s Home Ec class, to calling professors at State for each other, reporting that we had a “touch” of pneumonia.  From laughing about playing a chandelier, to singing the French National Anthem to the top of our lungs on the ferry to Fort Fisher.  And I would have to include moments that only true friends could share.  I was a victim of a violent crime and Barbara was the first one to me when I arrived home.  She took care of me like only a true friend could.  I knew once she got to me, I was safe.


Everyone here today could talk about special times with Barbara.  She had so many friends and yet she found a way to make each one of us feel special.  When you were with Barbara, she made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. 


Barbara wanted me to speak today.  I am honored because she knew I would do my best to put the words to work in tribute to her.  I hope if she can hear this, she is saying, “That’s my Teresa.”


When a sneaky sunrise spreads over the ocean on Topsail Island, when turtles march in rows back to their home in the sea, when snow falls quietly in the mountain pines where skiiers fall but get back up again, when children squeal on Christmas morning because Santa has been and their little hearts are full, think of Barbara. She is there.


When a train passes on Main Street in Benson and cars and pickup trucks wait impatiently, when a row of peas is picked and a bushel of corn shucked by a farmer and his wife, when little girls wear white bows in their hair every day, think of Barbara.  She is there.


When friends sit around tables and talk about old times or new dreams, laugh at jokes and tell old stories, when the summer rain cools off the afternoon and greens the grass even greener, when smart people dressed in red and white sing the State Fight Song or make a wolf with three fingers, think of Barbara.  She is there.


When a child follows a rainbow with amazed eyes or watches fireworks show off over the sound, when one of her granddaughters gets her first kiss and her first pearls, when a clown makes a child smile during the Mule Day parade, think of Barbara.  She is there.


When someone lets a balloon go and follows it until it’s out of sight, when one of the grandchildren catches a big fish and has to show Pops, when someone shags to the music of The Tams, sings along with Bon Jovi, Tom Petty or Conway Twitty, think of Barbara.  She is there.


When a little boy named Isaac says his prayers at night and believes that they will be answered, when a family gathers round a big table for Sunday dinner or a Thanksgiving feast, when a couple has their first dance and begins a life together, think of Barbara.  She is there.



When the seasons change and we celebrate the differences, from pumpkins, to candy canes, to bunny rabbits, when Jeffery Surles works his magic with flowers, ribbons and candles, when the congregation sings old hymns on Sunday mornings, think of Barbara.  She is there.


When at the end of a day you thank God for that day and its blessings, when you wake up in the morning glad to be alive in a wonderful world, when you drink your 2nd cup of morning coffee, or eat your bacon and egg sandwich, think of Barbara.  She is there. 


When you need a little hope and a lot of faith, when you need advice you might not want to hear with a few “geezes” thrown in, when you cross the new bridge over Topsail Island and

whiff that indescribable aroma of sand and sea, think of Barbara.  She is there.


When you walk out these doors and into the light of a July afternoon, when you drive away with your broken, empty heart, when you arrive home and feel that familiar comfort that coming home brings, think of Barbara.  She is there.


She will always be there.

People like Barbara never really leave us.

Eulogy for Barbara Wood Denning
(written by Teresa McLamb Blackmon)
July8, 1954-July 10, 2021


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