The Heart of Kernersville

By NJ Clausen

Here we are in the marvelous month of May! Celebrations throughout the month, including the one that brought us here, Mother’s Day. This month I have the pleasure of introducing you to a woman who enjoys 5 sons, 8 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren, Debbi Vandy.

Born in North Carolina, Debbi and her family moved to Kernersville when she was in the 4th grade. As a child, Debbi loved to read, and her favorite books were the Nancy Drew hardcover mysteries. She smiled as she recalled her grandparents bringing her 6 books at a time! Debbi also loved music, and at age 7 would become a rock star, singing along while doing chores. Although an only child, there were dogs, and Bozo, the big tabby cat who was her best friend, as he would play hide and go seek with her. Debbi enjoyed riding her bike with friends and loved to walk through the woods to the old cemetery. As the family lived on a dead-end street, she remembers lying on the road and feeling the heat rise off the pavement and watching the clouds go by. Debbi fondly recalled trips to Myrtle Beach with her grandparents and learning how to swim.

Debbi described the Kernersville where she grew up as having areas of ‘country dark,’ with farmland and houses, but no streetlights. She spoke a little on going to the 4-story building which was Kernersville Elementary. Debbi and her friends would walk uptown to Snow’s and to the theater, which was located nearby. The parades were a big event, and it seemed like the whole town was there.
Debbi was bussed to Winston-Salem for 5th and 6th grade. When her parents got divorced between 6th and 7th grade, Debbi lived with her dad and then returned to Kernersville Junior High for 7th and 8th grade. Her senior years were half in one location, and the last 2 years elsewhere. Although some friendships were disrupted, Debbi knows that she was fortunate to be part of the academically gifted program and the chorus, which included the same students. She is grateful for the lifelong friendships that bring such joy, even when it has been a while, not a beat is missed.

After high school Debbi married, had her first son, and 4 years later her second son. Nine years later, the marriage came to an end. It was hard being a single mother, but they made the best of it. Debbi would walk the boys to school, then go to her job in office administration and secretarial work. Debbi has shared with other young mothers that you can hope for everything to be perfect, including a pretty house and yard, but that is likely not going to be the reality. It is important to enjoy this time; it will not last long. Nothing stays the same, and it is important to set good boundaries for yourself, and to have someone to talk with who will listen. You cannot always make things perfect for your children, and when times get tough, do not be the one always trying to find the solutions for your children. Choices, even good choices, have a consequence, and you have to step aside and let them understand those consequences. The longer you try to protect them and save them from the bad decisions they have made, the longer they will make bad decisions.

After years of being estranged from her mother, they spoke when Debbi went to her maternal grandmothers’ funeral; forgiveness changed and mended their relationship. Accepting that each had their own differing memories, they moved on and let the past go. Debbi noted that her mom turned out to be her very best friend.

After holding different jobs, Debbi procured a job with 3M at their office in High Point. There was an outside salesperson named Bob who was part of a group that all clicked. Bob had 3 boys about the same age as her boys, so they started talking. They have now been married for 18 years and have known each other for over 2 decades.

Since 2016, Debbi has been part of the ‘Heart of the Triad Choral Society.’ The group rehearses every week, and twice a year they have a concert. She chuckled as she shared that, at her church, she plays the hand bells, and for practice at home she lined up kitchen utensils! In 2019, through her position with Caudill Electric she was able to go through the ‘Leadership Kernersville’ program, which she called a very rewarding experience.

To her family, Debbi wants you to know she is here for you. She has unconditional love because of her faith and beliefs. If you believe and have faith you are always forgiven, and you can always go on knowing there is a plan and a purpose for you. God has a plan, and sometimes you just have to be still, listen, and let go of control. Do that, and you will be directed to the path you are supposed to be on.

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