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Email: Roxann Gess Smith
I have known Darlene for over 37 years. She gave birth to me in November of 1966. I was the second of her five children. After leaving home for college (at the age of 17), I always lived in a different state from my mother, but managed to see her once or twice a year. We kept in touch via the internet and telephone. As you may know, mom was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2003. She soon underwent several chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She remained positive that she would be able to beat the disease. In December, I was with her at the doctor’s office when she was given "just months" to live.
At that point, I decided to give mom a vacation of her choice. Mom never had much money and had not been able to pursue a lot of her dreams. She had always dedicated her life to raising us kids. I felt it was time to spoil her!
She thought about where she would like to go for a few days and then informed me that she would just like to go on a road trip to see different sights around the nation. Secretly, this choice scared me, but I did not tell mom that I was apprehensive. I was afraid of her dying while we were on our trip, but was determined to let her fulfill her dreams. I told her that we would have to wait a few months since we were in the middle of winter. She began thinking of sights to explore.
As it turned out, she did not even make it a month. She was hospitalized on January 3rd and passed away on the 14th. My grandfather (her dad) and I were with her when she passed away. Towards the end, she informed her family that she was tired and wanted to close her eyes and not wake up. Her children all reassured her that it was OK for her to let go. She continued to fight and lived several days after her life-sustaining medications were stopped. I know in my heart that she was worried about us kids.
Mom was only 35 when her mother passed away due to heart disease. She knew how hard it was to lose her mom while she was a young mother and did not want us kids to have to experience the pain and difficulty. We (her children) can relate to her grandchildren since were about their ages when grandma passed away.
There are many things that most people do not know about my mom. She was one of the hardest working women that I have ever met. As a single parent, she did her best to raise her children. We now range in age from 24 (twins) to 39. Each of us will miss her and hold special memories of her. As I said at her memorial service, mom went by several different names, but NONE WERE MORE IMPORTANT TO HER THAN MOM AND GRANDMA. She supported each of her children in all of their endeavors and when we grew up and moved out of the house, she turned her energy toward her grandchildren. She was always our biggest fan and supporter! Her tombstone reads, “Dedicated her life to her children and grandchildren.”
Mom was a very giving person and would help anyone she could. As my cousin put it, "she would give the shirt off her back and not care what people thought of her walking around in her underwear." That is such a true statement. Thou mom had a hard time talking about herself and her feelings; she was someone who truly cared about others and sympathized with their struggles!!!
My mom had more life to live, but God decided that she had done her part on this earth and it was time to take her. I will miss her for the rest of my life and hope to see her again some day!
The great thing about the Internet is that we meet such interesting people that we never would have known otherwise. Our circle of friends broadens, and when we lose a friend it leaves an unfillable void in our lives.
I first "met" Darlene when we hosted history and genealogy web sites on the American Local History Network. When the organization began to disintegrate, a few of us decided to dig in, reorganize, and make it great again. We're a group of friends who live coast to coast. What brought us together is a love of genealogy and history, but we've over the years, shared the celebration of weddings and new babies, accomplishments, advice, and fun. We've also shared personal tragedies, health challenges, career ups and downs, and frustrations about anything and everything.
For a very long time, I pictured Darlene as a vivacious young mother with long dark hair in her mid-30's . I must have been envisioning Darlene's young spirit, because she was always cheerful and ready for anything!
Two years ago, I was so honored that Darlene, Roxy and Darilee drove to Portland, Oregon to spend a day with me! It was so much fun to meet these great friends in person (and prove to my dad that just because we met through the Internet, didn't mean these were imaginary people!). Darlene called me at my motel before I left Oregon, just to say goodbye, and I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.
I'm sure that Darlene knows that we love and miss her, and that she'll always be in our circle of friends.
My husband and I stopped in Roseburg for brunch and a chance to meet Darlene ... It was a pleasure... Darlene and I sat and talked Genealogy and my husband just went to a happy place for about an hour or so...
Things I gleammed from that conversation. Darlene loved genealogy and history research. She enjoyed the search and hunt. She was proud that she was a WebTV "beta tester". She was humble. She had had a serious of bad lucks and survived them.
In my opinion the ablility to learn, the willingness to change, and the strength to continue are the highest skills possible... and she was that kind of person.
Darlene and I were on the same board together and we became interchangeable... For some reason certain people couldn't tell the difference. Darlene took the blame for several of my blunders and I only wish I had received credit for some of the great stuff
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