But times change.
With four young children at home, her marriage ended. When life deals you that blow, you've got to choose between folding and marching on; between the lifelong stain of bitterness and the hopeful optimism in knowing that all things work out right in the end. Thankfully, she chose the latter.
On the modest salary of an elementary school teacher, she bought a home in the hills of Glendale. Her job allowed her the time to be there as much as possible for her kids, delivering them to various schools and sundry activities each day. A good dinner was on the table every night. Well, it was good most nights.
She remarried, and her new husband brought three kids of his own. Family portraits show an expansive, smiling clan adorned in the polyester, huge lapels and beehive hairdos of the '70s. Certainly there were smiles and good times for this extended family. But “The Brady Bunch” it was not.
In the early years of her second marriage, Darlene's father — her hero — would be taken from her by cancer at the young age of 68. He was her rock and perhaps the sole reason she has the tender heart she does. Even today, this woman in her late 70s becomes a little girl — her eyes alight and face beaming — when she talks about a man she still calls “daddy.”
Soon after, Darlene herself would be stricken with cancer. And again, there was a choice to be made.
I recall visiting her in the hospital the day of her diagnosis. She was surrounded by lady friends, all were crying. Yet through those fearful tears she was laughing, leading the others with an “oh hell, now this!” attitude — like she'd caught a cold before she was supposed to go on vacation.