I want to pay tribute to a very special lady, my sister.
I learned this week that she has been terminally ill for some time now. Dorothy would not let anyone tell me how bad it was, evidently, to keep me from flying to her side and make a fuss. That is typical of this strong tough lady. When life handed her crap, she used the crap to grow flowers. She refused to let anything or anyone keep her down. She was a true warrior all of her life and I am proud to have call her my sister.
My first memory of her was at age five. While our parents worked, she was my baby sitter. Somewhere I had picked up a “nasty” word and was enjoying the fact that I could shock friends and neighbors. She warned me to stop “or else.” The “or else” turned out to be having my mouth washed out with a soapy rag and being sat on for half an hour. I quickly learned not to mess with my big sister.
Shortly after, at 17, she ran away from home. I did not see her again for 12 years. During that time she had worked at a wide variety of jobs and took abuse from no one. While other women were baking cookies and going to dances, my sister was flying her own plane and parachuting. She was the modern equivalent of an American pioneer woman. She took whatever life threw at her and whipped its butt. Dotty took life in both hands and shook it into submission.
In her younger days Dotty was strikingly attractive. She had no shortage of male suitors. In fact she was married five times and raised two children. Dorothy was no submissive, dutiful, shy housewife. She was a strong, outspoken “partner”. If her husband did not respect her and their marriage vows, she kicked his boney butt out the door. She never moaned or complained about the past but always planned for a brighter future. She did not have time for self pity or charity.
She was a “modern woman” before there was such a label.
You might think from my description that my sister was ruthless and cold but you would be so very wrong. I never met anyone with a greater capacity for love and tenderness. Her hugs and soft words still warm my heart. I can not ever remember her raising her voice in anger and Lord knows I gave her plenty of reasons over the years. She had an especially soft spot in her heart for the innocent and vulnerable among us. Whether it was a child or just a lost kitten, she was always there with soft words and a helping hand.
Some would call my sister a “character”, even an eccentric, but I like to think of her as a rugged individualist. You never knew for sure how she would react in any situation and that made her an exciting companion. Wherever she went she made friends easily. People seemed to sense she was “real” and they opened up to her. In 67 years I have never met anyone quite like her and I doubt I ever will. I do not know where I am going when I shuffle off this mortal coil, but wherever it is I hope it is with her. An eternity being hugged by my sister would be heaven.
Goodbye Dotty…I love you