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A tad or so over 48 years ago I married into Gladys Dailey’s family. Either of my loyal readers might recall that Gladys was the widowed mother of three girls (Rita, Rosemary and Renee) and two boys (Tom and John). As it turned out, Rita and Rosemary moved to Virginia and Washington respectively and after moving around a few times Renee and I settled here.

When I was young I remember spending more time with my Grandma Cora than my parents and she taught me a lot about love and the importance of family. Gladys emulated Grandma Cora. For instance, back when raising three kids forced both of us to go to work Gladys stepped in and she sure made life easier around our house. I’d get home from work and not only did she know where all three kids were she had sorted my underwear and socks and put them in the drawers— but best of all supper was on the table. There were times when I begged her to just move in but once the kids left home she moved back to hers. However, I digress.

I guess the best thing I can say about the Dailey family is that they just moved over and made room for me. Gladys’ three daughters are not only beautiful, (Rita and Rosemary have red hair, Renee’s is blonde and as both my loyal readers know I went for the blonde) but over time all of them have become a huge part of who I am. I’d mention my relationship with John and Tom but we have sworn to keep most of our activities a secret.

Like Renee and me, Rosemary married very young, then moved off to Seattle prior to my attempt to get Renee’s full attention. In the first years of my marriage we’d head out to Auburn to visit Rosemary, John, Michelle and Melanie and the treks were always fun. We even saw King Tut come through town. Their house was out in the burbs of Seattle, in a very nice neighborhood with huge conifer trees, and rain and rain and after around four trips the sun finally came out and I wondered “Was Mount Rainier there all this time?”

When I graduated from college we bought a 1961 Volkswagen van, converted it into a kind of camper and left town. Our first destination was Seattle via Denver via Critchell via Salt Lake City. It took a month or so to get there and we moved into John and Rosemary’s driveway for another month, and it was just like being welcomed into Gladys’ house. John and I hit it off pretty good. He was a wonderful host and took me all over and then some. One day I was feeling kind of guilty about leaving Renee every day and I mentioned it to John. He took me aside and said, “You see where those girls are sitting around the kitchen table?” I said yup and John responded, “They’ll be sitting in the same place when we get home tonight.” And they were.

Anyway, Rosemary sadly passed away recently and as you can imagine sister Renee and sister Rita have been out there with John and the kids. Rosemary had an Ann Margaret aura about her, her smile would light up a room, as would her presence. My memories of this woman take me back to junior high. She was a couple years older than me, a cheerleader, and when she said hello to me in the hallway I’d sort of melt. Who would ever have thought that I’d end up in her family?

Over the years like everyone else in this Dailey family she became my sister, a part of me that will be with me always. Even though her passing has left a hole in our hearts there is great comfort every time we think of Rosemary because she sure filled our souls with more smiles than frowns. Rest in peace Rosemary, love you.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.