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Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha.....

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1 Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:25 am

bethk

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I got a call from my cousin in Sacramento, CA yesterday. Her mother, my Aunt Dorotha, passed away. It wasn't exactly unexpected as she was 91 and had been in a care facility for the last 6 years but it's still sad to know she's gone.

So, bear with me as I reminisce about this wonderful woman. She was my mother's only sister, two years younger, and why I always wanted a sister. My mom and Dorotha (pronounced Dorothy) could start a conversation, then not see each other for a year and then pick up where they left off ~ and Dorotha was the same with me. I was her oldest niece and was, quite honestly, treated like the family Princess (what can I say? I so deserved that! LOL).

Dorotha was the caregiver of the family. She was an RN and worked for many years at a VA facility in Topeka, KS caring for sick and wounded WWII vets. Her career ended when she contracted TB and had to take a year to recover. By then she had met my uncle and married. My uncle Don was an engineer and helped to build huge bridges and dams around the world, traveling on a regular basis. They had two daughters, my cousins Jan and Sue, and finally settled in San Mateo, CA just south of San Francisco. Dorotha always felt fortunate she never had to return to working and spent her years raising her daughters, taking in exchange students and homeless expectant teens, helping out at any number of charities to make the lives of so many people better and brighter.

When my grandparents health was declining Dorotha would come visit every summer for 6 or 7 weeks, cleaning and preparing meals to put into the freezer for them. I was the day-to-day caregiver at that time, in charge of medical claims for all the hospital stays. When my grandfather passed away Dorotha made arrangements for my grandmother to be moved to a care facility a couple blocks from her home in California so she could assist in Grandma's day-to-day care for the last 2 1/2 years of Grandma's life. Every day Dorotha would walk the 2 blocks to the care facility to help with Grandma's meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After Grandma passed away the girls (my cousins) got married and started families. They both went into teaching careers in the Sacramento area so Don and Dorotha sold their San Mateo home and moved to be closer to their girls and grandchildren. About 6 years ago my uncle's health started to decline and the decision was made to move into an assisted living facility although Dorotha wasn't really keen on the idea (she didn't want to give up her home and independence). But over the last 6 years her health also declined and, unfortunately, so did her mental health. Her personality changed and she started to take out her frustrations on my uncle, to the point it was suggested (and agreed) that Don and Dorotha were in separate rooms. A couple years ago Dorotha fell and broke her hip and ended up in a wheelchair. She had freedom to travel the hallways of the care facility and that's when she got in trouble. She would see the 'fire alarm' pulls on the walls and, as you know, each is printed with a "PULL HERE" notation. Always being one to follow directions, Dorotha would regularly PULL and set off the fire alarms. After the 4th time my cousins were instructed they needed to find another facility for their mother as she was being asked to leave.

The move to a second facility was difficult for my cousins as they had to share duties of checking on their parents in two facilities, visiting every other day. Dorotha didn't seem to care which facility she was in, she didn't like either and was known as the silent, angry resident who refused to converse with staff and residents. It would have been nice if they had been able to know her when she was younger and the complete opposite, always being the brightest lady in the room, playing piano for everyone's entertainment. For the last three weeks Hospice was in charge of her care and the girls shared meal assistance duties as Dorotha stopped eating on her own. Then, Saturday evening right after my cousin Sue left after helping with supper, Dorotha went to sleep for the last time. Just like her sister (my mom) Dorotha refused to pass away in front of her daughters, sparing them that final image.

Jan and Sue spoke with their father but neither thinks he really understands his wife of 60+ years has passed away. His mental state is very poor and often doesn't recognize his daughters and grandchildren at this point in his life. But, at some point, we're sure, he and Dorotha will be young and happy and reunited.

So, thanks for allowing me this tribute to my wonderful aunt. She's still my hero.....and I want to grow up to be just like her!

I don't want to be that nice little old lady everyone says 'hello' to at the care facility......I want to be the one who gets kicked out for bad behavior!

2 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Tue Oct 04, 2016 11:14 am

cookingirl

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Oh Beth... (((HUGS))))

That is a wonderful tribute to your Aunt.. Dorotha sounds like such an awesome, vibrant, feisty person!!

I am so sorry that she is no longer here. But she was a wonderful person...

She loved her entire family selflessly....and completely..
Cherish your memories of this wonderful woman...

((hugs))

3 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:36 pm

bethk

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Thanks, Cyn. It hit me last night that I am now the oldest female cousin in the family......

4 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:53 pm

cookingirl

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bethk wrote:Thanks, Cyn.  It hit me last night that I am now the oldest female cousin in the family......

Yes, it is strange. At my age, I have already had 2 cousins pass... and one of their spouses..Very strange feeling when someone you grew up with passes....
((hugs))

5 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:57 pm

Crybaby

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Oh, Beth, what a beautiful tribute that was! And you read my mind in the beginning when I wondered how her name was pronounced so we could really get to know her. She truly sounds like a wonderful lady and it's sad when age brings problems and personality changes. I really loved reading about her and your family, too, but I must dispute something.

You will indeed be that nice little old lady everyone says 'hello' to at the care facility, as they will truly enjoy seeing you instead of some whiny old lady who's ticked off at something or someone all day everyday... And if you DO ever get kicked out, it will probably be for something that's done with some wacky crowd of dames from your aquarobics class, making your getaway in a speeding golf cart with flames painted on the side... clown

6 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Wed Oct 05, 2016 4:17 am

bethk

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"with some wacky crowd of dames from your aquarobics class, making your getaway in a speeding golf cart with flames painted on the side..."

Well, OK, but that's the only other way! LOL

7 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:29 pm

Crybaby

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bethk wrote:"with some wacky crowd of dames from your aquarobics class, making your getaway in a speeding golf cart with flames painted on the side..."

Well, OK, but that's the only other way!   LOL

Literally laughed out loud at your response!!

8 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:05 pm

1DomesticGoddess

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Beth, I am so sorry to hear your Aunt had passed away. She certainly sounded like a wonderful lady, selflessly caring for others.


bethk wrote:I don't want to be that nice little old lady everyone says 'hello' to at the care facility......I want to be the one who gets kicked out for bad behavior!

Beth, you are such a rebel. Love your sense of humor!

9 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:02 pm

Crybaby

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Beth wrote:She had freedom to travel the hallways of the care facility and that's when she got in trouble. She would see the 'fire alarm' pulls on the walls and, as you know, each is printed with a "PULL HERE" notation. Always being one to follow directions, Dorotha would regularly PULL and set off the fire alarms. After the 4th time my cousins were instructed they needed to find another facility for their mother as she was being asked to leave.

I forgot to tell you, Beth, about Brian's mom, Marie, in the nursing home. She started calling 911 to report a fire as well. Of course, there was no fire. The fire department and the police told the home they were obliged to come out each time someone called 911. After Marie did it four or five times, the home decided to remove the telephone from her room! Luckily, they didn't put her out, as the home was quite nice that she was in and she was close to Brian's brother's house in Easton, MA, and he was the only child left in MA. It got a lot tougher for Brian to phone, as they would have to see if she was available to come out of her room to the house phone...

10 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:02 pm

bethk

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Oh, it's got to be tough getting old ~ I know I'll probably be a problem for whom ever is in charge of seeing I stay alive. But as long as I'm just fiesty and not mean, that's fine with me!

11 Re: Goodbye to my Aunt Dorotha..... on Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:51 am

UNCLE JIMMY

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bethk wrote:Oh, it's got to be tough getting old ~ I know I'll probably be a problem for whom ever is in charge of seeing I stay alive.  But as long as I'm just fiesty and not mean, that's fine with me!

Beth......So sorry to hear about your dear Aunt.
She most certainly was an Icon helping and nursing people.

It surely does make one think. I often think of where I sit in the realm of the family.
I have no aunts or uncles....2 cousins in Oregon, and when we called to say hello when their mom died, which we were never notified. Why? ...Because they didn't even know we were cousins.

I have two cousins in PA....and Tina has 1. We do visit them.

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