Michelle was invincible. If you were one of the lucky people to meet Michelle, you will never forget how good she made you feel. She was always complimentary and she strove to put a smile on everyone’s face, ensuring that you felt good about yourself. People wanted to be near Michelle because of the magical way she would brighten your day. Even though she was probably going through her own health issues and pain, she would not let you know that. She simply wanted everyone to be happy.
If you were blessed enough to know and love Michelle, then you already know that she was the sweetest, strongest, and bravest person in the entire world. To know her was to love her. We will always remember her beautiful smile and her not-so-great dance moves but, most importantly, we wish we could be more like her. Michelle was and will continue to be an inspiration to us all. She taught us how to endure pain with a smile and how to fight and overcome obstacles that are placed in our way.
And if you happened to be one of the many pets or stray animals in Michelle’s life, then you really hit the jackpot. You were guaranteed to be the most cared for, loved, and spoiled animal in the neighborhood. Michelle loved all animals and considered her pets to be her children.
Michelle married the love of her life, Jackie, in 1987 and they celebrated 32 years of marriage one week before she died. Jackie and Michelle were best friends, soulmates, and completely devoted to one another. Born in 1965, Michelle was the loving and faithful daughter of the best mother and father, Alice and Muriel Payne, and the best sister ever to Monica Adams and Matt Payne. She was known as the cool aunt to many nieces and nephews.
After a long and courageous battle with Cystic Fibrosis, Michelle can finally breathe, without pain and with no more suffering. We can only imagine that Ernie, Ike, Wally, Molly, and many other animals were waiting for her when the gates of heaven opened to welcome her. She was already an angel on earth so we know she is an awesome angel in heaven.
Michelle and her family thank all of the doctors and nurses at Duke University Medical Center who cared for her for the last 19 years. Special thanks to Dr. Palmer, Dr. Collins, Dr. Rege, and Dr. Whitson for their extraordinary care and their willingness to go above and beyond for her.
Michelle passed away much too young and, while she positively affected many people during her lifetime, there were many more whose lives she wanted to touch. In order to honor her and to continue her legacy, take time every day to compliment at least one person and make them smile.
Memorials in honor of Michelle can be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, www.cff.org, or to the HodgesMattox Scholarship Fund at First National Bank, Altavista, VA (1306 Bedford Avenue, Altavista, VA 24517). Recipients of this annual scholarship are area high school cross country athletes who demonstrate exemplary service to others.
Be an organ donor. Michelle was blessed to have received both a double lung transplant and a kidney transplant. We are grateful for the donors and their families for their gifts of life. Don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here!