Are there skateparks in heaven?
Western Garfield County Bureau Editor
BATTLEMENT MESA ” The night before 9-year-old Taylor DeMarco died, he and his dad Bill were watching “The Green Mile” together, the 1999 film about death-row inmates.
As it neared the time in the movie when one of the inmates, John Coffey, is due to go to the electric chair, Taylor turned, looked at his dad, and asked him if there is life after death. Bill told Taylor that yes, there is.
“Whatever you do well here, you will do in heaven,” he told his son.
“Well, then, there must be some really big bowls up there to skate,” Taylor said, a big smile on his face.
Bill DeMarco shared that story with more than 100 adults, teenagers and children who gathered together on Saturday morning under a white, open-air tent at Bea Underwood Elementary School in Battlement Mesa. They were there for one purpose ” to focus on the life of Taylor DeMarco.
Taylor died four days earlier, when he was shot by Eric Stoneman, a 14-year-old boy who lived a few blocks from Taylor. Eric is now being held without bond at the Grand Mesa Youth Detention Center in Grand Junction until a hearing at Garfield County Courthouse in Glenwood Springs on Aug. 24.
But Saturday’s memorial service wasn’t about Eric. It wasn’t about the judicial system, gun laws, or the newspaper and television crews gathered to cover the event.
It was about a little boy who loved to skateboard. It was about a boy who had eyes that sparkled.
“He was only with us a very short time, but he left such an impression on all of us, from his skateboarding tricks to the special memories we have of him,” said Michele Nichols, a minister at Fellowship Church in Grand Junction, where Taylor and his family attended services.
The boy’s mother and father, Bill DeMarco and Wendy Robyn, and his five siblings sat in the front row, with friends and family surrounding them.
Some men in attendance wore black suits, while others had on biker vests, bandannas and chaps. Some women wore black dresses. A teenage boy dressed entirely in black held a skateboard and stood off to the side. Some kids had on baseball caps, or just everyday summer clothes in all sorts of colors ” clothes they would have worn on any typical Saturday in July.
People at the memorial service talked about how proud Taylor was of “How to Skate,” a spiral-bound book he wrote about his favorite pastime.
“He sat down once and read it aloud to me,” said Dawn Magee, a paraprofessional who worked with Taylor at school.
“From all accounts, Taylor was an awesome skateboarder,” Nichols said.
Pink was Taylor’s color. His skateboarding book had a bright pink cover. He liked to wear pink. And at the service, two conference tables at the front, laden with flowers and food, were covered with pink tablecloths.
Magee said she asked him once about wearing pink.
“He said, ‘Real men wear pink,'” Magee said, which caused the crowd to break into laughter.
Taylor’s neighbor Kris Gray said he remembered when Taylor was about 6 years old. He said Taylor and his kids would play and bicker like all kids do. One time, Gray said, he separated them, telling his son Jacob to go to his room, and Taylor to go home until he was ready to behave.
“About three to four seconds after I closed the door, I heard a knock,” Gray said. “It was Taylor, with that little sparkle in his eyes. He said, ‘I think I’m ready to be good now.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Magee talked about Taylor’s determination that came through as she helped him study for what’s called the BEAR test, an achievement test administered to children.
“He didn’t blow it off,” she said. “He tried so hard.”
“I’m Taylor’s uncle from Missouri,” said a man standing near the back. “He’s always loved to hold my hand. I saw him just a few weeks ago, and I remember him reaching for my hand, and just holding it.”
As little boys and girls sat on their mother’s laps passing handkerchiefs back and forth, Bill DeMarco told the crowd that his son will be cremated with a skateboard he’d just bought for him a couple weeks ago from Zumiez skateboard shop.
Taylor told his dad he’d start using the new skateboard once he’d finished splintering his current one, Bill said.
Taylor will also be cremated with his favorite pink shirt.
Contact Carrie Click: 625-3245, ext. 101
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