I usually write my little birthday tribute to this special woman on Facebook, but now I have this platform, that I paid to be a part of, so here is where it happens!!

My stepmom, Dar, was born on this day. September 26th. I feel bad I forget what year, but she was a few years younger than Dad, so let’s say around 1938? I am sure someone from my family can jump in and correct or confirm that. She liked reminding Ed that she was younger than him, so I am going with that. Dar has been gone from our lives a long time, and what she brought to my life, and my family could never be forgotten.

I was 10 when Dar married Ed, and as a clueless 10 year old, I wasn’t real sure what was going on. I think they didn’t exactly abide by the 6 month waiting period for getting married after Dad divorced Mom, they went to Michigan (The UP, the cooler part of Michigan) and just had a small thing, we weren’t involved. In fact, I don’t really even recall when I found out. Doesn’t really matter, it was a good fit for him, and ended up being for us too.

I was eleven when I really started getting to know Dar better. We had a tough situation growing up, I have mentioned that before and likely will again. Dar was in an odd situation, most of her kids were grown and gone except her youngest son, Tommy. She all of a sudden married a guy with 6 kids, most of us still around, and needing parenting. Dar would bake cookies with us, take us around here or there. In an effort to know me better, she used to take me up to the old bingo hall in Oneida, before they built the casino and stuff. She was sneaking me in, sort of, I wasn’t really old enough. The bingo sucked we never won, but the time we spent driving up and back was the good stuff, we sang Air Supply songs.

I had the horrific experience at 11 of getting my first period at a slumber party. The mom helped me out with that in the morning. I remember Dar was picking me up from that party, and I told her what happened. She took care of things, we stopped and got what I needed. I am sure I asked her not to tell Dad, and she said of course. I know she did, but in that moment she was my confidant. I don’t know how I would have handled that had I been around Mom, her situation at the time was fragile, and I am forever grateful I had Dar to help me out back then. Heroes don’t always wear capes, as they say.

We had some rough patches, kids and adults do, it’s the law. But overall, Dar was a good person who got a little more than she bargained for when she fell in love with my dad. She was almost done raising kids, she wanted a better life than she had lived to that point. She did get that, it just was a little complicated. She was a godsend to me, at the age I was at. She helped teach me things about cooking, cleaning, laundry and being a part of a family that we weren’t getting with Mom, because although she wanted to, she just wasn’t able to do that for us. The years we had with Dar made us who we are today. I know how lucky I am to have had her in my life.

Happy Birthday Dar!! I hope your golf game has improved in Heaven, it almost had to, right? I hope the cribbage hands are going your way, since Greg joined you there I have been worried about that. I miss the kitchen on Railroad Street every single day, because in our family that is where the magic of being a family happened. We had it all for a while, and you were the integral part of that. I owe you so much more than a little tribute, I don’t keep a house the way you did, but I know how to thanks to you. I think about you every day, and I know you and Dad are having that life you dreamed of in a much better place.

Lots of love to you, always. Annie.

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