In Memory of Lizzie Freeman, who always made me smile with her silly giggles

I recently heard that the world has lost an inspirational soul… a girl I’ve known since 7th grade, who was vibrant, luminous, cheerful, uplifting and a genuine sweetheart.

Elizabeth E. Freeman and I had lost touch over time, but for two or three fun-filled years way back when, she lit up my life with excitement and laughter. Lizzie had a laugh that was absolutely contagious, a little-girl giggle that never got old. She could find humor in anything, even in our angsty teen years. Lizzie was a gymnast and a cheerleader, who pulled me in and groomed me to be a cheerleader with her. She was talented and exceled at everything she took on – a truly well-rounded girl. Perfect grades, great at sports, beautiful, a caring and trustworthy friend; Lizzie was a fantastic role model for anyone who met her.

We spent a lot of time at her house making up our own dances to cheesy ’80s music, gabbing about boys and pining to be real adults. When Lizzie got her drivers license she just LOVED to drive… anywhere. I lived up in the booney-sticks of Bear Valley, and Lizzie loved to come get me just because it allowed her to be in her car. We spent so many nights just riding around town, anywhere, listening to loud music and singing at the top of our lungs.

She loved Britney Spears when “Oops I Did it Again” was popular, and she never got over her Britney adoration. The last time I spoke with Liz (2 years ago), she gushed about how she spent New Year’s Eve at Pure in Las Vegas and she was “this close” to Britney! The excitement was palpable. 🙂

I drank my very first beer with Lizzie (sorry mom). We were too young, and we were at a small party, held at the house of some boy she had a crush on… I was 15, she was 16. We drank forties of something that tasted like death in a bottle, and we both hated it. A few months later we tried — oh yes we did — Alize (it tasted much better). Luckily, drinking didn’t define my high school years. Although Liz and I eventually drifted apart, I’m pretty sure it didn’t define hers either. She was always into sports and good grades and friends.

I smoked my very first joint with Lizzie (again, sorry mom). And I absolutely hated it, even though Lizzie told me I was supposed to feel “dopey.” I think I only tried it once more in high school, because the way it made Liz giggle made me think it couldn’t possibly be bad.

Coming home from the Alaska State Fair in 1996, Lizzie and I decided to stop at the Subway on HuffmanRd for some midnight chocolate chip cookies. She had a friend who worked there part time, and sometimes if we got there right at midnight he would give us all of the leftover cookies from the day for free! On this particular night, we walked into the Subway at 11:55pm. A man jumped up from behind the counter with a black face mask and a sawed off shotgun and shoved us into the back room – apparently we had interrupted a robbery. Lizzie and I were told to kneel and put our hand flat on the ground in front of us, while 2 masked men emptied the safe and cash registers. We made eye contact nervously and moved our hands closed together so we could link our pinky fingers together on the floor. The men left after just a few minutes, and no one was hurt. Calling our parents was almost scarier than what we had just been through! Lizzie wasn’t allowed to drive for a few weeks after that — and I remember thinking it was so unfair, since we weren’t out past curfew and we just wanted cookies and we didn’t do anything wrong! As I think about starting my own family, I now realize the absolute terror our parents must have felt when they recieved the call about their daughters being held up in an armed robbery.

After the fact, even that scary event was just something to gossip about. Lizzie and I got a little bit of fame out of it, and then went back to being cheerleading nerds who sang at the top of our lungs, looking for cute boys everywhere we went. I have more stories than I could possibly share, and I’ll always remember my time with Lizzie with fondness.

Liz and I shared a lot of wonderful times together, and she is in so many of my coming-of-age stories. I felt blessed to be her friend then and I feel blessed to have known her now that she is gone. I am sure that every person whose life she touched feels the same way, and I am so grateful to her parents, Linda & Skip Freeman, for raising such a wonderful soul.

Lizzie died on April 16, 2009 — from carbon monixide poisoning. Her obituary can be seen here. Please, PLEASE, take a quick moment to go check that your carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

Goodbye, Lizzie. You will be dearly missed, and I hope to hear your infectious giggle again someday.

something borrowed

As I mentioned before, I love adding personal touches with meaningful stories to our wedding. Well, I have another AWESOME one:

Adam’s grandparents (Dirk’s mom & dad) have let us borrow the cake knife from THEIR WEDDING. Their wedding from 1956. Beautiful! Now I might just cry into the cake!

the knife

Grandma Ellie

So I’ve been holding off (okay, maybe putting off and then forgetting) writing in my blog for the past while because there have been a lot of emotional events in my life that needed my attention. I know that this would probably be an ideal time to write a really raw memoir about my feeeeelings, but I’m so not that into blogging yet. Sorry!

I did just participate in the best wedding ever that will most likely NEVER be topped in this lifetime: my own. I officially became Mrs. Adam Jason Fast at about 5:30pm on Saturday, July 12, 2008 — and it was perfect. There are many, many things I’d love to share, and I will, regarding the wedding events.

Because of my beautiful, perfect wedding, however, there is one issue that I feel I haven’t given myself enough time to think about/grieve through/reflect upon — My grandmother. About 2 months ago, she had a small stroke. One month ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. I dropped everything in my life, including wedding planning, 3 weeks ago and flew to Idaho, where we had this conversation:

Grandma Ellie: I feel like a leech Jen, I can’t do anything for myself and I’m such a burden on everyone.

Me: Yeah, well, you changed your kids’ diapers for years, so I think they can help you to and from bed and the bathroom for a little while now.

Grandma Ellie: I need to just “go.”

Me: GRANDMA! Come ON! Don’t DIE on me, I have to get married in like a week you silly goose! *smiling, with a hug*

Grandma Ellie: eh. well.

So… she totally held on for me to get married on July 12. Then let “go” the following morning at the crack of dawn.


My Grandma Ellie (top right, next to her mother Lydia and my mamma and ME) was an incredibly strong, sassy Italian woman born Eleanor Santa Paolucci. She definitely died of her own will — she was not someone to be taken care of, she did the taking care of others; I believe she didn’t want that to ever change in anyone’s mind. She was easily the most glamorous person I am related to. When she wrote “Santa” on her Christmas gifts, we knew they were from her (and she wasn’t lying on the tag!). She used to throw parties and soirees when my mom was a little girl, and from the stories my mom tells I picture them in a really enchanting-black-and-white-1950s-movie setting. She traveled the world with her pilot husband, my grandfather David Holdsworth (who died of cancer in 1992, on Valentines Day), and nearly every trinket and bauble in her house has some fascinating back-story (oh, your grandpa got me that in Singapore, where by the way I had to wear a covering over my head whenever we went out in public!). She cooked Thanksgiving dinner every year, and every year she swore she wasn’t going to do it the following year (even though she thrived on the praise). On Thanksgiving and Christmas, she always broke out the good “goldware” — she is the only person I have ever known to even own goldware (glamorous)! She is famous to anyone who has ever met her for her delicious, savory meatballs, as well as her propensity for making any dish ever a delicious gourmet masterpiece (with an every-time warning of “oh, I don’t know how this will taste…”). She had huge elephant ashtrays that I will never forget, mostly because I have battle wounds from falling into them so much while I was growing up (example in the photo above!). She love love loved when I called her everysingletime I made spaghetti to ask for the recipe, even though I know it by heart. She also love love loved Adam, and the first time we went to visit her in Idaho 2 years ago it went a little something like this:

Me, walking through the door with 19 suitcases and sweat beading down my nose: “Hi GRAMA!!!”

Adam, walking through the door with his travel carry-on and nothing else: “Hi Ellie!”

Grandma: “Kids! Hi! Oh, heavens, ADAM! Put that down and come sit on the couch. Do you like beer? JENNY! Make Adam a sandwich — there’s pastrami in the fridge doyoulikepastramiAdam becauseialsohavehamandcheese… JENJEN! Beer’s in the fridge. Take off your shoes.”

And that is how Adam will always always always FONDLY remember her. Luckily, I have other fond memories. : )

The last time I saw her, I squeezed her hand and kissed her forehead. I’ll admit that there have been worse goodbyes in my life.

I am extremely proud to have been influenced by this beautiful, wonderful woman — and can’t wait to give her beautiful name to my first daughter.

Love you Grandma. Thanks for waiting until Sunday.

Mrs. Jenny Fast

PS. I totally made Adam like 12 sandwiches during our camping trip honeymoon in honor of the Great Sandwich Incident of 2006. And I got him cold beer.