Last Sunday I was honored to sing at the funeral of my dear childhood (and lifelong) friend, Dottie Morris Austin. She was just 65 years old, but had suffered for years from the horrors of early-onset Alzheimer's.
Her big brother, David, brought her to our house several years ago. (I think this was in 2008.)
Here was the whole group that night...
Then in August 2011 Mother and I went to see Dottie.
Here we are together.
I could hardly drive home that day, I just kept crying and crying.
Precious Dottie was still living in Fairfield, in her home, but she was not the smart, witty Dottie I knew. Her mind was basically gone and she had to have round the clock care.
Soon she would move to Plano to a memory care center there, which was close to her brother David.
Dottie's husband, Larry, was killed a car wreck in 1998 at the age of 46. They had (have) 2 wonderful sons, Kyle and Trevor.
I went to Larry's funeral back then and was amazed at how the First Baptist Church of Fairfield, TX was packed. He and Dottie and their sons had moved to Fairfield from Dallas in l992 and immediately became very active in that church.
Well, Dottie was always active in church.
When my family moved to Mission, TX in around 1956 she greeted two shy twin girls and welcomed them wholeheartedly to her church (First Baptist, Mission). She was 5 and we were 4. She took us under her wing, and that's where we stayed!! We even moved away (to Mississippi for 3 years), but when we moved back, Dottie was there, to take care of us. We did everything together. There were actually four of us, Dottie, Diane (Williams), my twin Peggy and me, Nancy. Yes, we were inseparable.
And now Dottie is in heaven, with her dear Larry AND with my twin Peggy. So Dottie Jean and Peggy Jean can hang out and relive the good times. (Well, I wish I knew how heaven is - but I'm guessing they're singing and laughing together.... like old times.)
So I sang at Dottie's funeral. As a solo I sang "I'd Rather Have Jesus" and then I led the group in singing "Love Lifted Me." And then "The Old Rugged Cross" played on the intercom. Those were her favorite songs. One of her caregivers told me that when Dottie couldn't talk she could sing, and would heartily sing "Love Lifted Me."
When she was still somewhat verbal, she couldn't read well, but she could read Scripture like a pro. And she did.
Somewhere I have pictures of us as children and then teenagers. I wish I could find them... I would so show them to you.
By the way, you can click HERE to read her obituary.
I really don't know of a better person than Dottie.
Years ago (in the summer of '89) when I went to grief counseling after my twin died of cancer, my counselor told me to 'go' to places in my mind that hold wonderful, loving and healing memories for me. My counselor told me to walk around there in my mind... and stay there a while. You know one of the main places where I 'went'? I went to the Morris house on the corner of Bryan Road and Highway 495. I can still go there... and still be comforted.
Oh, did you know that Dottie's father and grandfather built that house with their bare hands? YES, their bare hands - and muscles, and the sweat of their brows. It was a home built of love - inside and out. And I can still go there in my mind and walk around. I love that.
I can hardly type anymore.
Tears are coming.
Thank you, Lord, for dear Dottie Jean.