She was about as tall as her nickname was short. She was about as abrupt too--she had to be sometimes. She was a cancer survivor and didn't want to waste time fiddlin' in her 70's. You could always count on Dot to tell it like it was.
She was a transplant from up north that had lived her long enough to be considered a native. She told stories of riding horses in to another town before the highway was put in.
She managed her small parcel of land from the seat of a riding lawnmower. I knew she was feeling pretty spry when I heard that engine running next door.
When she replaced her fence, she kept the neighbor gate between our houses. My dog would wait there patiently while I hung out the laundry. He knew she would be there with a treat and a pat.
Every once in a while my phone would ring--and she'd ask to meet me at that neighbor gate. She'd be there with a smile and a pie, or extra of whatever she was busy making that day.
Ever since her "guardian" dog Katie passed away a few years ago, I sensed a little more sadness in that smile. She walked a little more slowly and that mower took a little longer in the yard. She would never admit getting attached to a dog, but I do believe she missed that poodle-ish dog. Oh how she would complain about her barking--but she was the best watch dog Dot ever had.
And then there was Fred...We were introduced to him as "Fred--he's just a friend". From then on when we saw that truck pull in we'd know that Dot and "just a friend Fred" were working on a project for her house, the pond or the yard.
One time, after a particularly busy hurricane season, my sister in law stopped by to visit and mentioned that Dot was on the roof. I ran out to see Dot--with pink curlers in her hair--and Fred, patching up some loose shingles on the roof of her house. When I begged her to come down off that wet roof, she assured me she was almost done. When I told her she was scaring me up there she just laughed and waved me off like a fly that was interrupting her work.
I am going to miss my dear neighbor with her rumbling lawnmower, the air gun pops taking out vagrant squirrels and her generosity of baked goods. But most of all I will miss her heart.
Once she asked me where my son was. Expecting to hear about a move or college, I shared that he was in prison for a while. My eyes welled up and she smiled. She then shared that her son was also in prison and she gave me the best advice.
She said, "Remember Kelly, at least we know our boys have a roof over their head and somethin' to eat. And we'll never worry about where they are." I thank God for my neighbor, she helped me get through one of the roughest patches of parenthood.
To make sure she knew she was loved, I asked her one day last year if she knew Jesus. It was like I was asking if she knew we were in Florida. She had given her life a long time ago to Jesus at a Baptist church.
So like my son, I know where Dot is today and I don't have to worry about a roof over her head or if she has enough to eat. She is with our Father in Heaven...and I like to think Katie and just a friend Fred were waiting patiently at The Gate for her.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NASB)