Dear Dottee, I miss you.

These past few weeks, I’ve realized just how much I miss my grandmother.    During my spring cleaning, I came across a few photos and initially thought to myself, I should send these to…… oh right,  I can’t.     I was in the card shop picking out cards for mother’s day and almost picked one out for her and then thought this is the first year I’m not sending one to her.   The realization she’s gone hit me like a ton of bricks.

She’s always been there for me to lean on, to share my trials and tribulations of growing up, relationship woes, funny things.    The stories she could tell.  Most of the time it would be the same stories, ones I had heard a million times over yet,  I never could bear to interrupt her.    They were her stories and she breathed life into them like they happened yesterday.

The last ten years of her life were not so kind to her.  She was mostly bedridden, by choice.  She at one time told the family she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis however, I never knew if that was fact or fiction.       I always wondered why she didn’t travel or experience more of what life has to offer since she had the means.   In her eyes, she had lived and had experienced everything she had wanted to already in the prime of her life.    Something happened to her though along the way.    I’ll never know what it was but it shattered her,  leaving in its wake a sometimes very bitter and angry old women.   My mom got that version of my grandmother more often than not which was unfair to my mom who just wanted a loving, accepting mother more than anything else.    I used to get caught in that crossfire .

For a short time in my thirties I lived in Charlotte and would drive over to see her once a week.   During that time she became sick with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized.    I made sure to be there for her when she came home from the hospital to help take care of her.   We had traded places.   I remember her being so fragile.  How I worried about her, waking up in the middle of the night sometimes to check and make sure she was still breathing.   I don’t think I slept that week.

The day she passed, my mom called rather frantic.  She had heard there had been an amulance at the Dottee’s house and wondered what it could be.   I immediately knew.      I am sad I didn’t get to see her one last time.  To hear one of the same stories I had heard time and time before.   To hold her hand and give her a big hug and tell her how much I love her.

There weren’t that many people at her funeral other than the family.  Most of her friends had already passed before her.  I made an attempt (poor attempt at best) to speak a few words in memoriam.

Dorothy Knox Schrum Hammond:
She asked that we make this short & sweet so I will do my best.    I have a great many good memories about Dottee:
 She was a strong & opinionated woman.  I loved that about her. She loved to talk politics & I imagine she would have made one heck of a politician if she had chosen that route. Being the first grandchild I was fortunate to have a close relationship with Dottee. She taught me my first word & she watched as I grew up and she never missed an occasion to send cards covered with stickers.  It was always a treat to spend the night with her,  sitting on the porch with both Dottee and Bea telling stories of how things used to be, going up into the attic,  playing dress up, eating ice cream late at night and tucking me into bed with Uncle Remus stories complete with different accents & voices.  I hope one day to be half the storyteller she was!   She gave me my first camera, a Polaroid for christmas one year- no one was safe!  That inspired my addiction to photography that continues today.     My mom shared her love of horses with me & boy they were both in trouble when I discovered Walter Farley’s Black stallion series!   Dottee also shared her love of baking deserts & made my world when she gave me the family coconut cake recipe. Through the years our relationship developed and it grew into more of a friendship. I’m thankful for her presence in my life. Sometimes you got more than you bargained for with her. She was a character and you knew for certain when she got that certain sparkle in her eye you were in for something!  However, at the end of the day she wanted to be loved….just like the rest of us.

February 25, 1925 – February 5, 2011.

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About Della

photography a work in progress; always growing, continually learning
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