Over four decades ago, Paul and I were house hunting for the first time. No more apartment living for us! We were lucky to find a little house in the Parkside neighborhood of North Buffalo, NY. Paul could walk to work. I was on leave from teaching to care for our infant son. The houses were close together–only a narrow driveway separated us from our neighbors. Dottie had five kids and the youngest, a son, was not much older than our son.
Dottie and I had the type of friendship that supports itself. You’ve probably heard the expression in real estate, “That house has good bones.” Our friendship was like that–solid through years of our children’s busy lives and moves by both of our families.
I recall when we had just walked into the house with our newborn daughter–Dottie’s eldest, Denise, came bounding up our front steps to see the baby. When Emily was two and I was back at work, Dottie often took care of Emily in her house–she would put Emily up on a chair so they could make mac ‘n cheese together. Emily now has two daughters. Dottie and her daughters have sent Emily the cutest outfits and toys. Emily’s youngest is just four months old, so our memories are very fresh.
We always kept in touch with birthday cards and Christmas cards. But Dottie often sent Easter and Thanksgiving cards, too. Since we returned to Western New York from Long Island about three years ago, Dottie and I have taken each other out to lunch a number of times. The last couple of times, Paul kindly chauffeured us and had a chance to reminisce with Dottie. When the kids were little, Dottie and Paul walked them together to the nearby Early Childhood Center.
During our last lunch, I gave Dottie a copy of my memoir. Not only had she met my parents during their visits so many years ago, she knew all about my search for my heritage and my identity from the beginning in May 1983. She held my book to her heart–we were both a little emotional. A month later, during one of our long phone chats, Dottie explained that after reading the first couple of chapters of my memoir about my dad’s post-WWII surgeries, she had to put the book down for a few weeks before she could finish it–Dad’s illness was simply too upsetting.
Two and a half weeks ago, on April 18, Denise wrote to tell me that Dottie died during the night. She went to the hospital only the day before. Cause of death–corona virus. How is this possible? “Denise, I am so sorry and devastated. Certain people are angels on earth, your mother was one of them. I always knew I was blessed to have her friendship and love.” Too soon.
Dottie leaves behind her children, their families, four grandchildren, and many, many friends–the memories of our dear Dottie make us all stronger.