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Remembering Dotto

This photograph may be the greatest thing to come out of my parents’ marriage. It’s from their 1975 wedding and features all four of my grandparents. The maternals are on the left – Nanny looking glam and somewhat unimpressed; Poppy rocking a checked suit and tremendous sideburns. On the right are the paternals – my lovely grandfather standing proudly beside my ravishing-in-red grandmother, Dotto.

My grandparents

I can’t quite remember why she was called Dotto. I think it was because she didn’t want to be a Nan or a Granny; she was too young for a creaky title like that. So, Dorothy became Dotto.

She was feisty, funny and blunt with her opinions. She played golf and loved old Hollywood movies. She’d look annoyed if you arrived for a Sunday visit while a Parramatta Eels game was on, interrupting her date with the handsome Peter Sterling. She took meticulous care of her skin and was always perfectly groomed, wearing lipstick and smelling fantastic.

Every time I saw her she’d tell the same two stories from my toddlerhood: 1) how I once walked up to her, placed a book in her lap and commanded, “READ!”, and 2) the time I told her I loved her “silvery purple” hair.

Everyone would roll their eyes at the repeat, but I loved hearing it again because every time she’d add a new embellishment.

She passed away on Saturday, aged 87. My siblings and I texted the same thought when we heard the news, “I thought she’d live forever”. Maybe it was the always-coloured hair, but mostly it’s the beautiful eccentric spirit. She was pure character… how could someone that wonderful not always be with us? I hate being so far away from Oz right now. There are so many people I want to hug and cry with.

Because my parents were relatively young when I was born, it’s always felt like the living family tree was huge; shading and sheltering above. These last few years the branches have begun to thin out. It’s such a heavy thing to comprehend. But I have a comforting thought that maybe somewhere else, my dear Poppy goes walking by and waves hi to Dotto. And she’s as spunky as ever, snarking about so-and-so’s thick ankles and still rocking her lipstick.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


25 thoughts on “Remembering Dotto

  1. Let me try that again…..Part of the agony of growing older is losing so many loved ones. I’m learning that more every day. So sorry for your loss Shauna. I can’t imagine how tough it is to be so far away.

  2. Shauna, sorry for your trouble as we say in our part of the world. A lovely tribute to your grandmother which made me cry. One of things about getting older is that each loss reminds you of earlier ones. I sympathise with you missing the rest of your family at a time like this. Take care of yourself x

  3. My sympathies go out to you and your family! The blessing amidst the tears is that a piece of each of those wonderful people lives in YOU!! I’m sure your grandmother was proud as a peacock over your writing success, and she probably preened a bit with each spunky phrase that reminded her of herself.

  4. Such a nice tribute, I’m sure it’s very hard to be so far away. But, you do have beautiful memories and I love that photo of both sets of grandparents. 1975 – the long dresses, hair styles and the plaid! Something to smile about.

  5. Saddest part of reading this is that I never had the joy of knowing even one grandparent, but my mum is exactly like your Dotto!

    Memories will always keep her near to you and in your heart forever x

  6. So very sorry to hear of your loss, Shauna. No wonder you turned out to be such a cracker when you had such a lovely family around you. X

  7. A beautiful tribute. She sounds like quite a character. I know how you feel about being so far away. Hugs to you.

  8. brilliant photo – I sometimes think we captured so much more of our interactions when photos were just a one off and none of these picking us at our best – the expression on your nanny’s face is priceless!

    so sorry to hear that your Dotto died – it is so hard to be far away at these times – and so much harder for a death to seem real when you are not there to mourn with the family and attend a funeral – but it is lovely that you have such wonderful memories of her – warm wishes to you and family

  9. Well said darling. You knew her well. She would have loved your little tribute. Miss you. ‘Hope you’re well.

  10. I’m very behind on my blog reading so I just saw this. Dotto sounds amazing and funny, a lot like you.

    I have been feeling the same way about family– lots of people getting older and sicker or passing. I am really appreciating the ones I have left. Love to you.

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