Love knows not of it’s own depth ,until the hour of separation-
Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Writing an obituary or just saying the word feels final. There are some things you just cannot speak about. Things that words have no way of expressing. It has taken time to write and publish this announcement because losing someone you love is incomprehensible, and doing it for someone whose body you were born from and whose womb you were formed in feels unnatural. and finite. Even though we know that our remaining number of days grows smaller with each passing day, we still refuse its finality until your tomorrow begins without that person.. Perhaps it is because the human mind is not conditioned to conceive a world without us in it. I know we weren’t prepared to live in a world without our mother in it. The labor has been agonizing. It’s like breathing without your lungs, or how your heart would feel if it stopped beating. Because it does. And the parts of our heart that are hers, won't ever beat the same. So if you’re expecting a cliff notes version of this woman's life go ahead and stop reading now, because she deserves to have her life remembered and eulogized for who she was, and for all she was worth.

It was the third Sunday of the month in December on the 18th day around noon that our hero Diana (Dede) Lynn Downey Fender unexpectedly passed away in her home. She bravely fought while waiting patiently for answers to a medical condition that remained undiagnosed for over a year.

Dede’s journey began on April 3,1958 in Tacoma Park MD, where she came into the world a free spirit; born at 6:01 pm to the Late Donald Eugene and Betty Downey. A sibling of ten, she was born somewhere in the middle, during the times of peace, love and happiness. A time when freedom was being fought and hitchhiking was an acceptable means of travel. At the young age of 14, she met and later married her first love and soulmate, Roger Carroll Fender of Asheville, NC. To this love, they were blessed with 2 daughters: Crystal Laine Fender of Asheville, NC and Carrie Loraine Fender of Seneca, SC. With them, she leaves behind her granddaughter Skylar Rayne Fender (Sky Bird) of Asheville, NC and as she would call him her Grandest Grandson Dawson Isaiah Parker (Daw Baby) of Asheville, NC, 2 beautiful great granddaughters: Ka’Mira Sun Fender and Nirvani Rain Fender, also of Asheville, NC, as well as her mother in law, Nellie Mae Parham (Mom 2) from Asheville NC. She is also survived by her 3 sisters: Denise Borchers of Cocoa, FL, Darla Kay Linton of Merritt Island, FL and Donna Cohen of Cocoa, FL. 5 brothers: Greg Downey of Cocoa Beach, FL, Gary Downey of Merritt Island, FL, Rocky Downey of Raleigh, NC, Keith Downey of Jacksonville, FL and Johnny Downey of Miami, FL. She also leaves behind many nieces and nephews, in-laws and her best friend Kay Gasperson Hunter of Arden NC and last but not least,  her oversized cat Winston.

She was preceded in death by her mother and father Betty and Donald Downey and her late brother Tony Downey, as well as her father in law, Charles Loye Fender, and her nephew, Justin Michael Boone.

A few kind words cannot begin to define our mother. I’m tact, there aren’t enough pages to embellish all her achievements  and the impact she had on those lives she touched. She spent her life serving others and we believe she earned this unconventional depiction of her life. Our mother was the strongest person we knew.  She was not only a life giver, provider of wisdom and lender of grace.. She was also our Angel.. She was a gifted poet and songwriter, artist and musician. Her works were copy-written and published, She was our superhero, a princess, and the center of our world. She was the glue: the very heart and soul of our family. Nothing she did could ever be replicated. Like a fine piece of art she was invaluable. She had beautiful honest blue eyes and she grieved the injustices of the world. She was a warrior and her life's work was spent training to be just that. A fighter. Her life wasn’t an easy one and she fought for every breath she took.  She was fearless to the pain she endured, never complaining, always praising God and she remained thankful and most of all grateful for every second God gave her down here.. She was rare and so was her love story.. So the story goes, she left the palms for the pines with no shoes on her feet. Roger stole her heart in the trailer park of san-mo east in Merritt Island, FL. With her homemade maxi sundress and baby on board she left the sunshine state for the Blue Ridge Mountains and became a momma. They got married October 13, 1976. They wrote songs together, made records together and most importantly they stayed together. They were saved and baptized together and Heaven is where they will spend eternity together. They carried one another through 50 beautiful years. 

Dede was creative. She could make a mean sandwich. Just ask her brother Greg who guilted her by threatening to hang himself if she didn’t make that double decker sandwich. She was funny. She was the shine in the sun. The reflection that glistened in the ocean and the light of our lives. Even when she spoke in anger, she was often the first to apologize in the form of a beautiful handwritten letter. If you ever received one of these, it's likely those words were never forgotten.. She loved her family despite their smart mouths, choices or dysfunctions. She worried about them, wrote about them, prayed for them, protected them, resented them, forgave them, never gave up on them, and always continued loving them.

Her love was almost too big for this world and her light, too bright. A love that big is hard to contain. If she loved you, you knew it. She was more often judged than she was understood. Never a follower so she didn’t conform. She believed in truth.  “Where there is no trust, there is no love”. She was a peacemaker always seeing the bright side. She could make you laugh and she could make you cry. She saw and spoke to every side of a story. She didn’t need to be center nor did she seek praise or glory. She not only was a gifted musician, she was an amazing writer.  She had a way with words. She recalls high school in one of her original poems”

“I never was a high school queen, although it was a secret dream. Not many people knew my name, at least not at football games. So, instead Id throw popcorn when someone's head was turned. I never took score so I never learned, But that's alright, that's okay…I never liked football anyway. And, I attended every high school dance but cant remember giving anyone a second glance or seeing anyone looking back at me, alone naturally, So instead ld sneak cigarettes in the bathroom stalls and Id write mean things on them dirty ole’ walls, and that’s alright, that’s okay, I never got caught anyway”

Music was born with her;. The lyrics healed her and they gave her hope. It's how she found love in the madness that life sometimes brings, and beauty in the pain we endure.  You would find a collection of artists from Goose Creek Symphony to the great late, John Prine, whom we feel certain she had her first jam session with in Heaven,.singing “Dear Abby”. We can see her now, over yonder  by Lake Marie standing by peaceful waters asking Jesus about the missing years.  She was the keeper of secrets. Never one to break a promise. Even when her faith was tested and her anger provoked she most often remained silent, but on those rare occasions if she spoke up in defense of something she believed in, she would leave you speechless. She was nurturing. She never forgot to tuck us in before bed or failed to say:“I love you, sweet dreams and good night” She had a knack for organizing and decorating a room. She loved a clean, cozy home, uncluttered with caddy cornered furniture. She preferred hanging ferns and knick knacks galore. If you ever visited it's likely you tripped over something or stubbed a toe. But she never worshiped things that money could buy. The only thing irreplaceable was her family. They were her tribe. She could plant a garden and make it grow., and when we couldn't afford a slip and slide she made summer fun with just a rubber water hose. She loved a good tan, and looking pretty. She never left the house before her face was made up. She loved singing “Coon Dog was my best friend,” and “The trees in Carolina” . She loved holidays and playing Santa Claus. Christmas mornings in the Fender home were filled with perfectly wrapped gifts and stocking stuffers strewn across the living room floor. She was always making our Christmas dreams come true. She was known for her homemade mac n cheese and baked beans.She made the best chicken and dumplings and mulligan you’d ever eat. Dede loved a good bargain; Yard sales and flea markets; sellers beware …if you ever went with her you knew she could talk anyone out of that one thing that wasn’t for sale. She was pure magic. And now she’s finally wearing her crown. She was a teacher to many. Her trophies did not collect dust on a mantle. She was the prize, the award and our reward. She was worthy of walking the red carpet or her name engraved onto a gold star on a concrete street but that wasn’t who she was.. she wasn’t fond of being walked on anyway.  Instead she’s walking in fields of Gold at the Pearly Gates in Heaven, wearing her much deserved wings that she so earnestly lived and died for. She’s home now patiently waiting for her loved ones to come play with her.  That’s where our momma is.  

When asked if she had one last message to the world what would it be she replied: “LOVE EACH OTHER, when I asked her why she looked over at me and said “Because, what is LIFE without LOVE? She will forever be loved and cherished. Her memory will always live inside us, and not a moment will pass that we won’t carry her sweet name close, for she was an angel on earth as well as in Heaven with our precious Jesus, on this day and for eternity. We will carry your light mama.. we love you. This video and what she said has been uploaded for you to see

We will continue her fight; as no one should have to suffer at the mercy of those who have sworn an oath to their patients. No one should have to die first, and get a diagnosis last.

Her family asks that you remember Dede for the genuine soul she was. We ask that if you knew her or have photos or a memory please leave them here.

In Lieu of flowers, the family requests that everyone try to live and love as Jesus does; just as Dede did. And as for donations, they can be sent to anyone in need..

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