Things My Mother Taught Me
To Be Nice—A Little About Dot
Everyone loved her—the miracle baby forever known as Dot because she was only a little dot when born at home in England’s wintergreen and pleasant (but cold) northeast in February 1927. The midwife who insisted she was too small to live and abandoned her to take care of Rose, who was giving birth for the sixth time to her only girl, turned out to be wrong. Granddad rescued his little Dot and, so the story goes, popped her into a pint pot (beer mug/an incubator not being available…) tucked into a blanket of cotton batten and sat her on the warming oven’s open door. Dot thrived.
But she was always tiny. So you could see when she started to show her age and her height began to diminish some 75 or so years later. “I’m shrinking,” she always said, with a smile. “Soon I’ll disappear.” Year by year, a little more seemed to be lopped off her height, but never from her smile. Dot always had a ready laugh, smiling through whatever came her way, and that was one of the things my mother taught me. Despite a life with some unexpected hard knocks and nasty surprises and let downs, Dot laughed away her troubles and carried on. She was nice to everyone without exception; whether they were nice to her in return didn’t seem to matter. She didn't think, necessarily, that what goes round comes round. Being nice was how she wanted to be in the world. Bringing comfort and joy created more laughter than tears and that was how she liked life and how she left it. Her last words, except for I'm tired, Pet, were designed to make us smile.
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