Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Aunt Darlene: You're Still Here, In Our Hearts

Darlene Vannatter Lee - 1995, Florida

This afternoon as I sit downtown at a café, I think of my Aunt Darlene Vannatter Lee, who would have turned 64 years old today. The first thing I think is - WOW - 64? Although Aunt Darlene has been gone almost 6 years, in moments like this she is still here, very real and present in our minds and hearts.

Personally, I felt a special bond with my Aunt, enjoying times at family occasions or around campfires. There's some people that you just "click" with, and she was one of them for me.  I remember her as having the best smile around; she smiled not only with her mouth but with her eyes as well.  She loved to laugh, and was a very giving person.

In talking today with with mother who is on vacation currently, she fondly remembered laying beside the pool, smothering each other with tanning oil and eating peanuts, having contests on who could get the brownest. She loved making homemade pizzas and playing board game after board game, laughing til she was almost sick. It meant so much to my Mom when her sister would visit her while in the hospital. Even though Aunt Darlene was much sicker than my Mom was, she just wouldn't leave.

She also remembered her sister as being giving and helpful.  She loved her family greatly, particularly her children Brett and Heather. She always wanted to be a grandmother, and just recently we celebrated as Heather brought Jillian into this world. No one would be happier than Darlene.

Finally, Aunt Darlene had absolute faith in Jesus and knew that one day she would be welcomed into Heaven.

Aunt Darlene, if only we could have just one more day with you, one more smile, one more laugh, one more hug. You will forever be in our hearts.


Mark Andrew

Darlene & Brett - Summer 1995

Darlene & Heather

Darlene & Debbie Alward - Christmas 2003

3 Vannatter Sisters: Donna, Debbie, & Darlene

Christmas 2000 - Vannatter Christmas (L-R)
Donna, Ben, Debbie, Darlene (standing)

Me & Aunt Darlene - June 2003 after a family gathering


Brett said...

Thank you very much Mark, this is great. I wouldnt even know where to being with further comments other than I am certain she knew she would be remembered and I am just as certain she wishes us all well. If she could talk to us one thing she would say would be something like, "live, enjoy life, help each other, and try to do your best in the world." I dont believe she ever expected anything grand of anything, she just enjoyed people, wanted to help them and wanted to help them be their best.

Mark Andrew said...

I couldn't have said it better, Brett. You're right, it was that simple, helping people, helping them to be their best.

Trish said...


I remember your Aunt Darlene, and although we only met a few times, she was a woman who made me feel happy. Your mom has a lot of the same qualities that you've written about your Aunt Darlene. So, my Aunt Debbie is like your Aunt Darlene. Lots of love.