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Beloved Mother, Daughter, Granddaughter, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, Niece and Friend. Ashley passed away peacefully after a nearly 6 month battle with a rare form of blood cancer that came without warning. Ashley’s last words were spoken to her mother in June, upon her second admittance to the emergency room. Shortly before losing consciousness, Ashley softly but firmly announced, “I’m not afraid Mom, I’m not afraid.”
Ashley began life as the only daughter of a devoted mother who herself was still attending and determined to finish high school on time. Ashley attended Vadnais Heights Elementary School followed by Lake Middle School and later graduated from Woodbury Senior High School in 2004. In her 36 years she exemplified the luck that some display over a lengthy lifetime. In 1995 at the age of 10, she won the Junior Miss Vadnais Heights Pageant. That same year, she was invited to play the lead role in her school's theater production (the second year in a row) and the same year that her softball team went undefeated in their division. Ashley was invited to appear with her mother on the Maury Povich Show, “My Mom and I are Mistaken for Sisters.” And in her senior year of high school she causally signed her mother up for a chance to take an all expense paid Disney cruise for four and was soon after announced the winner. Ashley’s magnetic personality was no match for simple luck!
While in high school she enlisted in the Air Force, and promptly left for basic training after graduation, headed to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Weighing in under 100 pounds at the time, she was invited to gain as much weight as she could, but sternly advised not to lose any. Ashley excelled at and enjoyed her Basic Training experience and was heartbroken when a torn meniscus during Warrior Week landed her in “med hold” and resulted in an early “Honorable Medical Discharge.” Ashley’s jovial look back at that time in her life would have her describe her military experience with the statement, “I spent more time in Med Hold than in Basic!” stated emphatically while throwing her hair back with a hearty laugh. Ashley went on to spend about a year in California making new friends and sampling the Hollywood lifestyle. She played a small role in a movie and also as an extra within multiple TV shows. Ashley completed her Associate of Arts degree with a culinary focus with Le Cordon Bleu. She went on to take an administrative position with the Red Cross, and was quickly recognized and promoted by those around her. She obtained her CNA and was eventually promoted to the position of “Service to the Armed Forces Liaison,” which would have resulted in Ashley being deployed to Kuwait for a 9 month stint, where she would have been available to our service men and women who would be receiving difficult news including the loss of a loved one, divorce or other troubling news, as well as being the Red Cross representative on base. Shortly before her deployment to Kuwait, Ashley discovered she was pregnant. While this would eliminate the travel related to her promotion, it simultaneously began the best and most important job of Ashley’s life, “Mom”.
Ashley loved being a mother, first as a “Bonus Mother” to Soren and subsequently as Bodhi’s mother. All other things took a distant back seat to her responsibilities of motherhood. Ashley obsessed about the health of her child even before he was born, studying diet, sleep patterns and background sounds. Once Bodhi was born she did not miss a chance to take Bodhi to the zoo, the Children’s Museum, the Science Museum or park. Ashley joined “mom groups”, networked and generally studied the role of motherhood, attempting to perfect the experience for her son. Like all new mothers, there were tough days and setbacks, but there was NO Quit! Ashley was thrilled to be a mother, a role that quickly became her reason for life. Ashley proudly stated that “Bodhi is my heart outside of my chest.”
With her brilliant smile, glowing large blue eyes, infectious full laugh and free spirit, Ashley literally “lit up the room.” Having Ashley tell you a story or recount her day included a full bodied animated experience. Raising her eyebrows for extra emphasis, flashing her smile while batting her eyelashes for dramatic flare, arms illustrating the size, direction and motion. It wasn’t just a story, it was a performance.
Ashley is survived by her son, Bodhi; mother, Heidi (Cook) Zawacki; Chad “ChadDad” Zawacki; siblings, Corey Williams, Alexis Zawacki, and Natasha Zawacki; grandmother, Kay (Backlund) Phillips; grandparents, Sherry and Mark Zawacki. She is also survived by the Smith family: grandparents, Mike & Eva; father, Chuck (Chris) ; siblings, Kayla Peddycoart (Anthony), Cameron (Emmy) Smith and Quintin Smith. Ashley was preceded in death by her grandfather, Ray Cook; great-grandparents, Roy & Josephine Backlund; great uncle, Larry Osowski; great-grandparents, Emmeline & Eldon Smith; and close friend, DB.
We invite you to join us in celebrating Ashley’s life by joining us on;
Wednesday, December 21, 2022 for a Visitation from 4pm to 8pm at Bradshaw Funeral Home, 4600 Greenhaven Drive, White Bear Lake, MN 55127. And then again on Thursday, December 22, 2022 for her Funeral- Celebration of Life at 11am, at Oak Hill Lutheran Church, 9050 60th Street North, Stillwater, MN 55082. Our service will be followed by a lunch and then a burial at Saint Mary’s of the Lake Cemetery, White Bear Lake.
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
4:00 - 8:00pm (Central time)
Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center - White Bear Lake
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Starts at 11:00am (Central time)
Woodbury Lutheran Church - Oak Hill Campus
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