I am not a morning person. And those who know me well know it’s best to avoid interaction with me before 10:00 am (and sadly, coffee doesn’t make any difference). Thus, each week, it’s a challenge to be “ready to go” on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. A former rector of mine in Alabama, who shared my dislike of mornings, would often complain about how “Holy Mother Church somehow got confused and forgot that it’s the Last Supper we are remembering, and not the Last Breakfast.”

On Sunday mornings we have a short meeting at 7:30 in the library at Christ Church with all of the clergy and verger. There’s a quick recap of what’s going on in the services for that day, and last minute additions or substitutions are noted. I typically don’t speak much in this meeting (I refer you to the first sentence of this blog). When our meeting adjourns, for the past 11+ years I have walked over to the church to get a bulletin for the 8:00 service and the first person who greets me is Dotty Dodson. “Hello, Jason! Good morning.” Somehow, miraculously, she transforms my morning routine. Not only do I get a sincere handshake and a solid look in the eyes, but she’ll ask about how my week was, and whether or not I brought my “little doggie” to work that day. And with each person who entered the doors of the church for that service, you could hear her faint voice say “Hello! Good morning.”

Earlier last spring, Dotty received dreadful news from her doctor which revealed she had only a matter of weeks to live. The feisty little woman was soon wheeling around an oxygen tank behind her. She told me on more than one occasion how much she detested it. But, weeks turned into months, and suddenly Dotty was no longer carrying around the oxygen tank. She looked great and seemed every bit her old self.

From Dotty's 93rd birthday last August

jason-abel-1.4.17.jpgSunday mornings continued with the regular routine for me. She was always there, hand outstretched and wishing me a good morning. We had a few brief conversations about her figure skating past, and she invited me to come and visit her at home. She told me to not bother knocking, just enter through her garage, and where I would likely find her in her house. I assured her that I would not just randomly show up without calling in advance and scheduling a time. But, it truly didn’t seem to matter to her if she was surprised to find me in her house at some random time.

I regret that I never took the time to go and visit with her in her house. I last saw her from afar on Christmas Eve when I noticed that her sickness had caught up to her. She died two days after Christmas. I will miss her determination to not “grow up” and to live life to its fullest to the very end. I had not realized just how much I cared for her until I was informed of her passing. It’s an unfortunate lesson to learn.

However, the faith that we all share comforts me in that she is gone only from my sight, and that she now “skates with the angels” as the Rev. Ann Gillespie put it. I hope when my own time on this earth comes to an end the first person I encounter in Heaven will be Dotty. I envision her stretching out her hand, looking up to me, and saying “Hello, Jason! Good morning.”

 I pray that Dotty’s soul rests in the never-ending love of God.