I went to my friend Marla's mom's funeral today. Darlene Grove was such an important part of my childhood; she was the stay-at-home mom that made me jealous of Marla. My mom went to work when I was in the fourth grade, so things changed for our family. By then my siblings were grown, and I was the "big sister" to my nephew and niece.
I don't remember the first time I stayed at Marla's, but I just know that we either stayed at her house or mine almost every night from age 12-14. They moved to Macomb when we were in high school, and I didn't continue to spend so much time at their house, but I loved staying with them when we were at the silliest times of our lives.
Marla's dad worked at Tinker, so he went to bed with the chickens, and we stayed up and watched Johnny Carson with Darlene. She had the most infectious laugh and a sense of humor that told me that she enjoyed us even in our silliest moments.
We pierced our ears (with ice cubes, needles and thread), changed our hair styles, played with make-up, practiced cheers in her front yard, sunbathed on the roof. We ate wonderful meals; she made the best salad, but on the night they had liver and onions, I suddenly would need to go home. I pulled taffy with them for the first and only time in my life and still remember the burning fingers. Her little can-shaped carrot cakes were the best, and her divinity was divine. She made it colored and dropped it onto waxed paper in little fluffy balls. I didn't know how significant that was until I tried to make divinity the first time. Incredible!
I know her death has left a void in her family. She was a devoted wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I haven't seen her many times in recent years, but when I did, she bragged about those grandkids; for some reason she thought they were the cutest, smartest kids around, just as it should be. She has had a really bad couple of months, so her family is relieved that she isn't suffering any longer, but they will miss her. I will miss her too.