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On Monday, the Anderson family’s good friend, Jean, came over for lunch so she could spend time with Leah before she flew off to Rapid City. I always enjoy when Jean is around and I believe that most people do. She is very easy to talk with and quite a bit of fun. It wasn’t until Monday, however, that I realized why I recently love being around Jean.
She brings Dottie back to life. I know, I know, that must sound a little morbid or ghost-like, but that is far from what I mean. Dottie’s been gone from this Earth for almost three and a half years now. I do remember what it was like to be around her; her giggle, the way she would get lost in her multi-tasking only to burn something she was cooking for dinner, her gentle spirit that had a little spunk to it, and the way she loved those around her. Being around Jean is different than merely remembering Dottie. Jean brings those memories back to life. Maybe it’s because she was Dottie’s very very dear friend. (So dear, in fact, that anticipating Jean would not bare any children of her own, as she’s single, Dottie invited her to witness Ben’s birth so she could experience the gift of life.) She remembers Dottie the way a friend would remember their very best friend.
This got me to thinking – what will people say about me when I’m gone? People have a tendency to turn even the worst person into a hero. I’ve seen this done a few times. While that person was alive he was the “worst father”. Well, he left and now he is suddenly extremely supportive and was the love of one’s life – admittedly, of course, after a bitter divorce of course. We have the tendency to remember those good things about those who have gone on before us but are they really true?
We didn’t have to turn Dottie into a hero when she went on. She naturally was a beautiful, kind and brave hero. Born into a family of men, Dottie, had to learn to become the “mom” during her teen years after her own mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She loyally cared for her father, brothers and mother. She then went to college at Mary Washington to become a teacher. Enter in Bruce a few years later and after a very quick courtship they became engaged. Bruce left to go out to sea (he was in the Navy) and Dottie planned a wedding. After they were married they tried to conceive. This went on for two years when it was determined that they might never have children. They adopted Leah from Korea. After Leah had been around for a little while miraculously Dottie became pregnant with Rachel. According to Jean, Rachel was the most beautiful baby. More time passed and Dottie became pregnant again – only this time she had complications and went into labor at 26 weeks. She delivered a very tiny girl and then…there was another tiny girl. Janelle and Emily survived four months in the hospital and Dottie loved and cared for her tiny girls and her girls at home as best she could. Janelle, being the older of the two, has turn into a healthy young woman. Emily, the younger, suffered from the birth experience and has cerebral palsy. She is so kind and sweet. Then came Ben…and three months of bed rest for Dottie so he too wouldn’t arrive early.
To add to a life of generously giving to others and truly considering them better than herself, she also taught autistic preschoolers. And in the later years took care of both of her brothers who also suffer from schizophrenia. Bill currently lives in Buffalo and Eddie lives in Virginia still.
I remember when she was diagnosed with cancer thinking to myself, “Why on Earth would you do this to her, God? She’s done nothing but serve others her entire life.” Even during her fight with cancer she thought of us first rather than herself – other than the potato chips she was craving towards the end, those were for her!
I guess I’m trying to convey what an enormous impact this woman, the mother of my husband, has had on my life and those who were blessed enough to know her. For some reason I have been missing her tremendously today, wishing I could call her up and invite her over for dinner so we can gush over Brennan. Even with this pain of not having her here, I know I will see her again. It’s only a matter of time until I’ll be by her side giggling with her in our real Home.