Dorothy’s Little House on the Illinois Prairie

 

I know I’ve been quiet, but I finally have something to say…

A dear friend’s sweet mama left her earthly home early this week, relocating to her new home in Heaven. The angels are rejoicing, but it’s sure causing mixed feelings for those of us left behind. Sadness that she’s gone from our lives for this moment, but renewed anticipation of Heaven’s glory when we’ll be reunited with those who have gone before.

Dorothy was the mother of one of my closest friends and colleagues. (My Facebook friends have heard of Terry – she is one of my dedicated Christmas Elves and a big supporter of B&B’s for Vets.) Her mama’s home was my safe landing place when I lived in Alton and needed to stay overnight to work in the Springfield office. It was so much better than staying in a cookie-cutter hotel – there was just no comparison! Dorothy’s home was my own personal Bed & Breakfast (and sometimes lunch and dinner!) Even after moving from Alton to Jacksonville I visited Dorothy, both in her home and in her new (nursing) homes.


Ya’ll probably know that our current home is a vintage mansion in a grand neighborhood of many large, beautiful homes in the flourishing town of Jacksonville. I can’t tell you the number of square feet – I can’t even remember the number of rooms without counting – but, it’s big! Dorothy lived in a very small house in a very small town. My house is huge and her house size was tiny, by comparison. However, her house was tiny only in size. The warmth and feelings of love and belonging were immeasurable. It was a beautifully decorated little house and was always so warm and welcoming. I never felt like a stranger at Dorothy’s. She always welcomed me with open arms, a sweet smile and a mischievous twinkle in her eye. (More about that twinkle in a bit!)

The second that I walked in Dorothy’s front door all the cares of the world, all the work concerns, all the things that tugged and pulled my mind and heart a hundred different directions, drifted away. (It might have helped that Terry had often planned ahead and there was a pot of soup on the stove or dinner on the table!) I remember that it was an amazing transformation to total relaxation. It was like coming home.

We visited a lot when I stayed with Dorothy. We chatted and watched Little House on the Prairie and Hallmark movies. We went for fruit and waffles at Ruby’s. We carried in fried chicken from Cherry’s. She talked with me about my Bed & Breakfast while it was still a big idea full of hope. She knew that it was a long-time dream, and she wholeheartedly supported me as it came to fruition. She loved my family and welcomed them to come with me to visit. When Valerie became an even bigger part of our lives Dorothy loved having her visit, even without me, often sending her home with a stuffed kitty cat. Dorothy’s home welcomed many visitors – she had many, many friends – and I hope that my B&B guests feel even a portion of the love, warmth and welcome that was “Dorothy’s house”.

When I was there we talked a lot and laughed a lot. Dorothy was so much fun to spend time with, although she did have an ornery streak, and I got caught more than once! The funniest illustration I can remember – funny NOW – is the time that Dorothy and Terry were in the kitchen early one morning while I was still sleeping soundly. Dorothy wore a call button around her neck, and I’d often wondered what I’d do if she fell and had to push the button while I was there. (I’d spent some time reviewing in my mind what steps I’d take.) The story goes that as I was sleeping away, Dorothy asked Terry what she thought would happen if she pushed the button, buzzing the alarm box that was set about six inches from my pillow. Terry insists to this day that she discouraged it, but… Dorothy thought it might be funny, and…. she pushed it! I flew from the bedroom to the kitchen, feet barely touching the floor! As sleepy as I was, I could quickly see that there was no crisis, only a slightly sheepish Dorothy, with an impish grin, watching my panicked flight. After catching my breath and getting my heart rate back under control, even I could see that it was a little bit funny. However, as time passed it became funnier and funnier and Dorothy reveled in revisiting that buzzer-induced early morning wake up call!

I have many, many fond memories of Dorothy, and like others who knew and loved her, will miss her greatly. It’s a blessing to know that she’s enjoying her new home in the warmth and wonder of Heaven, and we’ll be visiting again before too long.

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