The past two days have been somber ones around the office. We lost one of our own on Saturday to a 2-year battle with cardiac and renal failure that was piled atop her lifelong courtship with diabetes. We all were given our chance to say goodbye, though none of us probably ever said it out loud. We, like her and her husband, thought there was still a chance for her to pull through. She was Little Spitfire, tried and true. She’d been to Hell and back on a burning boat and still anchored at shore with a smile on her face. She was amazing. An inspiration. She gave me a gift that I don’t think she realized she possessed.
Dotti was tiny – all of 4 feet and 11 inches and 108 pounds soaking wet. She had short, salt-n-pepper hair, wire-rimmed glasses and the voice of an 8-year old. I remember the first time I talked to her on the phone. It made me smile. You don’t hear voices like hers every day. She had a love for pattern-matched outfits and homemade jewelry constructed by her daughter, Melody. Every once in a while she would pop in our offices to show off the fresh pedicure she had just received from her cousin or a new pair of shoes that she quite fancied. The smallest things could make her day and books provided her endless imagination a place to roam. She treated our children as if they were her own grandchildren and longed for the day that Melody could give her one to snuggle and spoil and love.
She was almost always an optimist. Of course, there were times when her frustrations with work or medical happenings would become apparent, but it wouldn’t be long before Dotti had turned her frown upside down and she’d be smiling from earring to earring, offering nothing more than “I’m feeling much better today.” She’d bring leftovers for lunch – enough to feed a crowd – and tell us of the new and wonderful snacks or drinks that she had discovered while shopping at her local market. She was a natural part of our day and it wasn’t until she could no longer be there with us that we felt the effect of a boat without its skipper.
Dotti had suffered from kidney failure during the last two years of her life. She took on dialysis every other day and eventually every night as she slept. Her heart had taken a beating from a life of diabetes and her tiny frame rejected many of the drugs that were meant to make her feel more comfortable. Despite the obstacles that seemed so constant in her path, Dotti remained steadfast with hope. Hope that it would all get better. Hope that some day she would get that call asking her to make the drive to receive her new organ. The organ that would change her life. That call never came.
After a grueling open-heart surgery that resulted in a triple bypass, Dotti couldn’t quite bounce back. Stubborn as she was, she insisted that she work. Limited to 4 hours per day, she would be present in the office to do what work she could and catch up on all of us and our families. For several weeks, we watched as her frailty became more and more apparent and time and again she would be sent to the hospital, always by way of ambulance. Her last trip was made on April 9th to Wake Medical Center in Raleigh. After weeks of treatment, infections and, finally, resuscitations, Dotti’s little body had to give up.
I know that Dotti is where she should be. I know that God called her to Him when he felt she was ready. Her suffering has come to an end. Gone are the tubes, the drips, the masks and gloves and gowns. Gone are the bruises and nausea and sleeplessness. She is at peace now.
At home she leaves behind a devoted husband, a loving daughter, a son-in-law and grand-guide-dog. No one could miss her more. At the office she leaves behind her second family, many “grandchildren” and a spirit that will never be matched. And inspiration. Lots of inspiration. To keep on going when that’s all there is to do. To smile in the face of adversity and to laugh when it’s the best medicine you can have.
Rest in peace, Dotti. We’ll miss you long after 5:00 every day. And we love you incredibly.