My cousin, Darla Stanko passed away on February 26, 2023, at 63 just years old. As I think of Darla, I remember her laugh, which was just like her mother’s. It was sweet and a little shy, but when they laughed…you laughed, because their laugh was contagious. As kids, we would all go down in Grandma Byer’s basement to play, while the grownups visited upstairs. Grandma’s basement was a little creepy and worked well as a “haunted” house…if the kids liked that sort of thing. Some did and some didn’t. I preferred other games. I think Darla did too. She had asthma and scary stuff could trigger things.
As kids do, we all grew up…quicker than we would ever have dreamed possible. Before long, babies were coming along. I remember talking to Darla once. She told me that without a doubt, the best thing she ever did was JeanAnn, and of that I have no doubt. For a mom to look at the beautiful little baby they have just given birth to…there is no greater honor. Kids are a big part of our lives, and games are a part of kids. JeanAnn told me about the times she and her mom played cards. Their favorite game was Speed…which is a high drama card matching game for two players. It was perfect for them.
The other thing that JeanAnn and her mom loved to do was to spend time jumping on the trampoline in their yard. I can just picture it now, a summer evening in the back yard, just the two girls, jumping and giggling the hours away. Of course, there was also their dog, Nelly with them too. Now Nelly was a different sort of dog. She was very gentle with JeanAnn, but then she was JeanAnn’s guard dog. She was also gentle with Darla too…except for that one time. JeanAnn could make Nelly mad and then point at a new person, and Nelly would go get that person. That was all well and good…until JeanAnn did that to her mom. My guess is that JeanAnn had no idea what was about to take place. Darla saw it coming, and she jumped on the furniture to get away from the guard dog that was now hot on her trail. She almost knocked herself out jumping down. JeanAnn says, “It was great” and maybe it was…for her anyway. Darla…maybe not so much, but I’m sure she laughed about it later.
Now, for me, possibly the funniest story about Darla’s life was the “fateful” trip to Denver. Darla decided to take her daughter to Denver, and to take her mom, my Aunt Delores Johnson with them. She needed a “navigator” and while I can’t picture my Aunt Dee in that capacity, maybe Darla thought map reading was like breathing…anyone could do it. My thought is, “Have you met your mother?” Anyway, off they went, and to make a long story short, they ended up on a one street in rush hour traffic, going the wrong way!!” Oh yes, that’s the Aunt Dee I know, and I can totally picture that whole situation…once I can stop laughing!!
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